Spanish CAF promises factory in Portugal if it sells trains to CP

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The three final bidders have submitted the final proposal for the sale of 117 new electric cars to CP. Factory construction is valued in the scoring criteria.

The French Alstom, the Spanish CAF and the Swiss Stadler were the three companies that reached the last stage of the tender for the sale of 117 new trains to CP, for 819 million euros. The French and Swiss had already admitted the construction of a factory to produce the new units on Portuguese soil. The Spanish have admitted for the first time that they are also available to build manufacturing facilities. The announcement was made two days after the final bids were submitted, the results of which will be known later this semester.

Spanish CAF promises factory in Portugal if it sells trains to CP

“CAF is one of the bidders that submitted a final bid on Tuesday for the 117 new trains. Domestic manufacturing has a very important component in the validation of the bids. The bidder that wants to win will have to manufacture [the trains] in Portugal. We presented a proposal to win this tender,” said Mário Vieira, responsible for the international market at CAF, during the Portugal Railway Summit in Entroncamento. The construction of a factory is one of the criteria valued in the tender.

The company coming from the Basque Country does not commit, however, to numbers of jobs created nor to the concrete location of the factory, which will only be built if it wins the tender. “It will be a factory that will have enough human resources to produce the 117 new trains,” says Mário Vieira. If built, CAF commits to keep the unit operating at least until 2030 and, above all, with train assembly functions.

Alstom has reinforced its commitment to build a train factory in Matosinhos. They promise to create 300 direct jobs and help more than 1,700 higher education students, according to information advanced by ECO two weeks ago. “Our intention is to manufacture the train 100% in Portugal. We will count on our usual suppliers,” said Marcos Pereira, an Alstom employee. The French company has been competing in a consortium with the Portuguese company DST since the first phase.

The Swiss of Stadler did not advance more details about the proposal for the construction of the factory, in partnership with the Salvador Caetano group, in the municipality of Ovar. They assume, however, the will to stay in Portugal in the long term and beyond the production of 117 new cars: “We are not looking for an industrial partner like Salvador Caetano and then close and leave”, said Roman Blásquez, sales director of the Stadler factory in Valencia.

The Swiss company will supply 22 new regional trains to CP as of October 2025, four years after the contract comes into force. The company assumes that “delivery times are not usually extended” and claims that signaling is the “main difficulty” for the units to arrive sooner to the national rails.

All new trains arriving in Portugal are equipped with the European ETCS safety system. However, the system installed on Portuguese railway lines is Convel, developed in the 1990s. Without a “translator”, called STM, the new trains would not be able to read the signals transmitted by the Convel beacons installed on more than 1,500 of the 2,562 kilometers of the national railway network. Stadler is one of the companies that belongs to the consortium that will try to respond to this problem – Alstom is developing an independent solution, the Convel Dual.

Out of the tender before the final phase was Siemens, which submitted a joint bid with Talgo. “We had difficulty with some criteria in the specifications, such as price revision. The war in Ukraine had just started and there was inflation that was at a very high rate. Once the risk was identified, we were convinced that there were no competitors as brave as they were for a contract with these characteristics”, assumed Luís Candeias, leader of Siemens Mobility for the Portuguese market. The German company was left out of the tender because it proposed a budget 300 million euros above the base price, Público newspaper wrote in January.

The winner of the 117 new trains will be known later this semester. The new units will be exclusively electric and will be used on regional (55 railcars) and suburban (62 railcars) services. The first deliveries will begin in 2026.

In the suburban service, the Cascais Line will receive 34 units, replacing the 3150 and 3250 series, modernized at the end of the 1990s but with bodywork from the 1950s. Another 16 railcars will reinforce operations on the Sintra, Azambuja, and Sado lines; there will also be 12 railcars to reinforce Porto’s urban services. There will also be an option to order, until 2028, another 24 trainsets for Greater Lisbon and another 12 for Greater Porto.

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