Late 2020 is the deadline for a €32 million project to electrify the entirety of the Algarve’s railway line, announced this morning (January 20) by Portugal’s Infrastructure and Planning Minister.
The works will take place between Tunes and Lagos and Faro and Vila Real de Santo António, Pedro Marques told reporters in Portimão, as the line between Tunes and Faro is the only one already electrified.
If all goes according to plan, tenders and environmental impact studies will be launched “next week” while construction work is set to begin in the third quarter of 2018.
Hopes are that the improved railway will be fully operational by the last quarter of 2020.
As TSF radio points out, the Algarve railway as it is today “is obsolete” and travelling on a train from one end of it (Lagos) to the other (VRSA) can take over three hours.
The revamp also includes the construction of a new electrical substation to power the line between Faro and VRSA, though the vice-president of Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) Carlos Fernandes says this is still under negotiation with REN and EDP to see which company offers the best deal.
Also on the agenda is a €1.6 million investment to carry out general improvements such as new signs along the line.
Cited by Sulinformação website, Portimão mayoress Isilda Gomes has expressed “great happiness and hope” following the ministerial announcement.
“Given the substantial contribution of the Algarve to the national GDP, our region deserves very special attention from the government,” she said, adding that “we have been successful, but nothing guarantees that if investments are not made, we will continue to be successful”.
As she explained: “Arriving in Tunes and taking the train here (Portimão) is an experience that one does not forget quickly, for all the wrong reasons”.
Lagos mayoress Joaquina Matos also weighed in, saying that Algarvians “will not forget the 2020 deadline”.
But while full “electrification” may be a few years away, things are not looking as promising for a rail link to Faro Airport.
Though Marques said he wants to to find a solution, working with Algarve Municipalities Association AMAL, he told Sulinformação that the link can only be constructed “if it possible from an environmental standpoint” given the “impact” it could have on the protected natural area of Ria Formosa.
Photo: Minister for Planning and Infrastructures Pedro Marques