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Guardians of Mobility: from the front lines in Barcelona, Spain

  • Europe
  • Passenger
  • Staff

There are many “unsung heroes” in times of crisis, and we recognise that our public transport professionals are some of them.

Our ‘Guardians of Mobility’, are an integral part of the front liners keeping essential services available throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the course of these next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from our own community on what’s being done to keep public transport operations running around the world, and to shed a little light on our sector’s contribution to fighting this pandemic.

Today, we hear from Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) sharing experiences from Spain.


As the coronavirus spread through Europe, Spain was another one of the top countries in the continent hit the hardest. Our member in Barcelona, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC), home office of our current UITP President, Pere Calvet, was quick to prepare their front lines and ensure the health and safety of all staff and customers.

“I am amazed by the commitment of all my colleagues coming to work every day, facing daily challenges, in order to provide essential transport services for their community”, said Pere Calvet, General Manager of FGC, and UITP President. “Their dedication motivates me, and should be an inspiration to us all.”

When the crisis began, FGC quickly established a committee to monitor the evolution of the pandemic, and approved a contingency plan with immediate measures to prevent and control the spread, while preserving the company’s capacity to keep providing essential transport services. Temperature checks were instated for OCC staff, while shifts were reorganised to separate the staff into smaller teams, and all other activities were adapted to be done remotely in a work-from-home situation.

I am amazed by the commitment of all my colleagues… their dedication motivates me.
Pere Calvet
General Manager of FGC, and UITP President

More frequent and in-depth cleaning and disinfecting of all trains and facilities, especially those with surfaces often touched by passengers or staff, are still regularly conducted.

Physical “touchpoints” were eliminated for passengers as much as possible, and thus, train doors open automatically at every station.

“Every measure we’ve taken is with the priority in mind to keep our people safe”, said Mr Calvet. “’Our people’ meaning both our colleagues on the front lines, and our fellow citizens that trust us with their mobility needs during this crisis period.”

From the beginning, FGC has worked together with the Catalonian Coordination Center (PROCICAT) and the Metropolitan Transport Authority (ATM). FGC has a particular talent for strong communication campaigns to engage with the public and these skills came in handy when guidelines and preventative measures were handed down from the local authorities: FGC played a key role in communicating about the crisis and how to handle it properly to the community.

“We have always had a strong bond with our community and we take this role very seriously”, said Mr Calvet. “People here rely on public transport to get to their medical appointments, or to move essential workers to our healthcare facilities… and they are thanking us and showing their appreciation in any way they can!”

Of course, due to the current situation, FGC still had to minimise the mobility services available based on a reduction in the passenger demand. They also strictly ensure a maximum occupation of 1/3 the normal capacity.

While the work continues to keep the region moving during these unprecedented times, our President has begun to think about the next steps and what we—as a sector—can take away from this experience.

“As a society, we will all come away from this period having learned a lot”, said Mr Calvet. “But most importantly, it’s an experience that emphasises the need to collaborate to overcome real challenges, as companies, as individuals, and as a community. There is no ‘one hero’ or individual solution here. We must work together and collaborate… now and in the future!”

Thank you to our Guardians of Mobility in Barcelona for keeping their community moving throughout this difficult time!

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