Continued misery on the Sintra line, one year on

COMMUTERS PACKED onto early morning trains travelling into Lisbon on the Sintra line are continuing to face long delays due to work on the Rossio Tunnel.

The tunnel was closed exactly a year ago after faults and cracks were discovered in its fabric, should have been repaired by now but a lengthy contractual tendering process held up the work.

It is anticipated that the tunnel should open by August 2006, following round-the-clock work by a consortium of engineering and construction companies.

It was a year ago on October 22 when the 70,000 passengers that daily fed into Rossio Station in central downtown Lisbon were re-routed to Entrecampos, Sete Rios and Campolide stations, because Rossio had been closed for security reasons.

Since then, the platforms on these three stations are so packed at rush hour that entry on and off the trains has to be controlled by the police! Passengers have also complained that the situation can add up to 40 minutes to their journey time.

Others say that they now have to endure the whole journey standing up packed tightly together like sardines in a can, a situation that was particularly unpleasant in the sweltering heat of the summer months.

Local traders, café owners, newsagents and shopkeepers around Rossio are up in arms because they say they’ve lost valuable trade due to the loss of the commuters.

The good news, however, is that Rossio is currently being modernised inside and restored on the outside to its former Victorian glory. Therefore, once the tunnel is fixed and passengers start flowing back into the station again, the whole area promises to be quite chic and worthy of a modern bustling metropolis.