Alain Couchot, Project Manager, Colas Rail

Our Main Concern is Staff Safety

Colas Rail is a French construction company specialised in railway works that's number 1 in Europe, with a turnover of almost € 1 billion. It belongs to the COLAS group, a world leader in road construction, which is itself part of a gigantic industrial group BOUYGUES

One of our targets is to participate in the metro project in Belgrade. We have the skills and are already present in Serbia. With our experience growing in the country, we are willing to win more bids. Graduates and Students are welcome to contact our HR department.

Who are you and what is Colas Rail?

– My name is Alain Couchot and I’m a French project manager working for Colas Rail in Belgrade. Colas Rail has a staff of 5,800 located in 24 countries, bringing together more than 10 different trades (track, catenary, substation, signalling, maintenance, freight etc.). We operate in the construction of urban transport (trams, metro rail) but also classic railways and high-speed lines. Tell me about Colas Rail’s start in Serbia. – Colas Rail’s Serbia branch opened a little over two years ago. The first project we were involved in was the reconstruction of the tram lines on Slavija Square, Boulevard Oslobodjenja, Ruzveltova and Mije Kovačevića streets. Then we began building the new line on the ADA Bridge in a consortium with company EnergoProjekt NG. This project is still ongoing.

Can you tell me more about this Ada Bridge project?

– It consists of the construction of a new electrified double tram line across the Ada Bridge, connections to existing tram lines, two tram stations and two rectifier stations. The biggest technical difficulty is that the Ada Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge, which means the deck does not have its own rigidity and is subject to movement. We have therefore had to install dilation devices that are large enough to absorb its movements.

The weather has also been a challenge. We had a lot of snow this winter and this has disrupted some of the works. We are currently in the finalising and testing phase for an early July delivery.

The link between the French and the Serbs is historic and Colas Rail is proud to humbly participate in Serbia’s development

What is the added value of Colas Rail in Serbia?

– Colas Rail’s main concern is the safety of each of our employees. Work cannot start if safety rules are not set up and applied. Safety culture is not an easy concept to import, but great progress has been made since we started here.

The establishment of an ISO quality system is also one of our objectives. The goal is twofold: to control ourselves almost in real time, in order to rectify mistakes, and to prove to the client that the work is done according to the design. But the greatest strength of Colas Rail Serbia is to benefit from the experience and support of Colas Rail International.

How do you see the future of Colas Rail in Serbia?

– The schedule for the near future is already full. We have just started two new projects – the reconstruction of 60 km of railway tracks and train stations between Jajinci and Mala Krsna and the reconstruction of the streets Kraljice Marije, 27 Marta, Džordža Vasingtona and Cara Dusana, including tram lines. A third project is about to begin this summer: the reconstruction and extension of the train Depot in Zemun. We have increased our workforce sevenfold in less than six months.