Algarve railway in crisis as cancelled trains leave passengers stranded on daily basis
Unsurprisingly, the Algarve’s railway service is in crisis. Almost every day there are reports of trains that have been delayed or cancelled, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and with little or no alternatives.
The situation is dire, especially in the Eastern Algarve, and passengers are ‘at their wit’s end’.
Between October 4 and 14 alone, 36 trains were cancelled in the Algarve. The number rises to 716 when taking into account the first nine months of the year. During August, the busiest of the summer months, a total of 41 trains were cancelled.
As Público newspaper stresses, the trains that serve the Algarve railway are “rundown” and break down frequently.
Making matters worse is the fact that the buses that Portuguese railway company CP rents to make up for the axed trains do not provide transportation for all the passengers that are affected in the Eastern Algarve.
According to Público, the buses only stop in Tavira, Olhão and Bom João when the train would also stop in Monte Gordo, Cacela, Conceição, Porta Nova, Luz, Livramento and Fuzeta.
And since there are no workers or information panels at these stops, “passengers never know if a train is coming or not”.
In its defence, CP says that it would take “double the time” to stop at all of them and that many do not have the accessibilities needed for larger vehicles like buses.
The paper reports that the national mobility and transport authority (AMT) is aware of the situation but has never publicly commented on it.
Questioned by the paper, CP said that it has already announced the measures that are being carried out to tackle these issues, including the purchase of new trains, renting trains from Spain and hiring 102 workers for EMEF, the company that repairs and maintains CP’s trains.
However, none of the measures will provide a short-term solution to the issue which has been making headlines for months. Just a few weeks ago, Ana Tarrafa from the Algarve railway users’ commission (CULA) described the state of the region’s railway network as “absolutely ridiculous”.
“Every day we talk about sustainability and mobility, about creating more bike lanes and using our cars less, and then this happens – we basically exclude people from the railway,” she said.
By MICHAEL BRUXO email@example.com
Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP