By SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]
It was announced last year by Comboios de Portugal (CP) that the Algarve’s railway line would be upgraded and revamped as old trains were to be removed and replaced by 11 new trains.
However, upon arrival, conductors and passengers were met with 1960’s carriages, which had been sparsely remodelled in 2000 for the benefit of travellers in the north of Portugal.
The outdated trains are costing the Algarve an estimated five million euros per year to run, due to the ever increasing mechanical and technical repairs, representing 26% of the railway budget allocated.
Speaking to the Expresso newspaper, the regional Algarve director of CP, Luís Alho said: “The Algarve deserves new rolling stock for the regional railway. We had originally planned to purchase new rolling stock at an investment of around 500 million euro’s, but all plans have been stopped due to the realities of the Troika.”
Quality of service and reliability of the Algarve railway service is now being questioned as the old machines frequently experience problems that prohibit any services from taking place, they run at very slow speeds and fewer stations along the line are now in service.
Stations in Silves and Fuseta in Olhão are now both closed in order to save money, and other train stations are more frequently being found unoccupied and passengers are unable to obtain assistance or advice.
Mayor of Faro, Macario Correia acknowledged that: “it is true that the service of the CP is deficient. When punctuality and service quality are poor it is hard to attract new passengers. It is regrettable that I am unable to provide passengers with better answers for this poor service.”
The Algarve line has been deemed “not important enough” by CP to invest in and there are no plans for the near future to upgrade the railway line, purchase new engines or open new stations.
In response to criticism, CP plan to look further into the ‘commercial viability’ of the Algarve’s train service. However before this action is carried out, many aspects of the service need to undergo changes so that customers are attracted.
Luís Alho also brought attention to making Algarve train stations more attractive in the most commercial areas, and he said that he “finds it difficult to understand why refurbishment projects have not yet arisen.”
Although the Algarve’s ‘new’ trains now feature automatic doors and air conditioning, both of which the old trains did not, it still remains that the Algarve has become victim to receiving outcast machines that have out lived their days on modernised railways.