Association demands answers
The Vale d’Ouro Association has said today that the delay in the electrification of the Douro Line is “unqualified and inexplicable”.
It is particularly concerned that the project has been excluded from “any Community framework”, in terms of funding.
Based in Pinhão, the association has been at the forefront of the defence of the Douro railway line and its reactivation to the border with Spain, explains Lusa.
“This delay is unqualified and is beginning to have very strange contours”, Luís Almeida, chairman of board said in a statement. “The region deserves more respect, and the country deserves an explanation for so many delays.”
The organisation adds that in recent days several dispatches had been published authorising investment spending by Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) “without the electrification of the Douro Line between Marco de Canaveses and Régua having been contemplated”.
Yet this investment was planned under Ferrovia 2020 – a programme that has “been marked by successive delays, poor planning and a poor response to the real needs of rail transport in the country”, the statement continues.
“With Portugal 2030 already underway, the expectation has been that the project can be done within the new community framework. However, this situation has not been confirmed – and in a recent presentation by IP there was no reference to it.
“What is the reason for this delay and why it is taking so long (for the project) to be executed?”, queries Luís Almeida.
“We are talking about public investment, and if the company in question does not understand this dynamic, political leaders should come and explain it to the public.”
Lusa adds that Mr Almeida “remains sceptical about the future”. He also wonders whether, if electrification of the Douro Line does become included within the next framework, others porjects might be “subtracted”.
“I hope it won’t be at the expense of electrification for Pocinho or the reopening of Barca d’Alva”, he said. “While we wait for investments that seem difficult to unblock in Lisbon, the region needs intercity services to be created between Foz Côa (Pocinho station) and Porto”.
In Luís Almeida’s opinion, this would be “a fair, albeit minimal, compensation measure for a region that is still waiting for political commitments to be honoured“.
The Douro Line has been electrified up to Marco de Canaveses. A working group was formed in May 2021 to study and define the model for reopening the 28-kilometre stretch of track between Pocinho and Barca d’Alva closed in 1988. Its conclusions are due in July.