A conversation with Eng. José Manuel Faísca


A conversation with Eng. José Manuel Faísca

'Having cemented the investment in the electrification of the railway infrastructure, it becomes important to accelerate electric mobility in the country […] It is up to IP to play a dynamic role in promoting environmentally friendly policies'

Tell us a little about your current background and functions.

My journey began with a passion for trains, since I come from a family of railway workers, however, observing the buildings associated with the railways was the trigger for a passion for architecture. However, my passage through the world of car racing brought me closer to asphalt and engineering. Thus, between races and trips, I completed the civil engineering course at IST. At the end of the course, I decided to join Engivia, where I acquired the knowledge of the universe inherent to the road project and deepened my knowledge in the area of ​​Engineering and Environment, whose manager was decisive for my professional future: engineer Quinhones Levy. After the creation of IP – Infraestruturas de Portugal, in 2015, I was faced with the challenge of performing the functions of Director of IP’s Road Developments Department and, in addition, of Manager of the Road Area of ​​IP-Engenharia. I was then faced with one of the biggest challenges of my career, the Marão Tunnel project, where I worked with a team of great professionals. In 2016, IP created the Enterprises Department (road-rail) and the Engineering and Environment Department, of which I was appointed director. In 2020, due to the gigantic challenges ahead, the Administration appointed a second director with vast experience. Cohabitation between two directors in the same direction is only possible thanks to the symbiosis and complicity between me and my “partner”, Eng. José Alves Monteiro. In addition to the joint responsibility and decision-making, the management of teams and projects was divided into rail and road studies, with the environmental area being my responsibility. The Engineering and Environment Department assumes the role of “engineering” and “Project Manager” of the Group: it is responsible for developing studies and projects and provides engineering services in multidisciplinary road-rail projects, whether construction, requalification and maintenance, aiming to provide mobility solutions.

How has BETAR contributed to the development of your projects?

BETAR has always been a partner of the organizations that grew to be IP, with emphasis on its involvement in bridge projects, inspection of special structures and related services. However, its contribution often extended to partnerships with so-called road consulting companies, assuming responsibility for the development of special, current, support and/or retaining wall structures. Recently, we have observed the reinforcement of resources by the company, which results in the willingness to take on the projects’ development in most specialties that make up an enterprise, somehow freeing itself from the name of “Bridge Designer”. Collaboration with partners is crucial to achieving the objectives, being a win-to-win process. Respect, transparency and co-responsibility between the parties are of particular importance. The challenges and difficulties will only be overcome if there is collaboration and knowledge sharing, as IP’s success is inseparable from the success of the companies with which we establish partnerships and vice versa.

How does IP conduct its activity in a sustainable way? And what are the strategic guidelines for the future?

The company’s mission, and in particular the Environment and Sustainability structure, is to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and promote a corporate culture consistent with environmental responsibility, enhance the efficient use of resources and the innovation and improvement of services with an impact on performance environmental. Once the investment in the electrification of the railway infrastructure is cemented, it becomes important to accelerate electric mobility in the country, through the use of zero-emission vehicles. Being IP the largest infrastructure manager, it has the role of promoting environmentally friendly policies, making its network permeable and capable of being used by services that contribute to a decarbonisation policy. IP is based on the Action Plan for the Circular Economy, which is based on Prevention, Reduction, Reuse, Recovery and Recycling of Materials and Energy. This approach replaces the “end of life” concept of the linear economy with new circular flows. The Engineering and Environment Department also has the mission of contributing to improve the habits of its employees and customers. We also have to end the competition between the Railroad and Highway, assuming their complementarity. The strategy will have to go through stimulating sustainable forms of mobility, including the adoption of measures to limit and control road capacity, promote the maintenance and creation of pedestrian and cycling corridors and the materialization of green and leisure areas. The FERROVIA2020 Program should be complemented with the improvement of accessibility to that infrastructure, with the creation of road-rail terminals, logistic parks and parking, in close coordination with the reform of public transport services.

This interview is an integral part of Revista Artes & Letras # 132, July/ August 2021
Partially automatic translation from portuguese: some expressions may differ from their actual meaning.

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