Government abandons TGV project

Plans for the construction of a TGV rail line from Poceirão to Caia have been abandoned, announced the Portuguese government last week after the Court of Auditors rejected the project on March 21.

Referring to the project as an “act of irresponsibility” by the previous government, Minister for the Economy Álvaro Santos Pereira said the interests of the country had not been taken into consideration during negotiations with the consortium led by Soares da Costa and Brisa.

The consortium is now seeking compensation, which the government has confirmed will be under €300 million.

The union for the construction sector in Portugal has alerted that the cancellation of the high speed line could lead to hundreds of workers being left without a job.

Álvaro Santos Pereira says, however, that the country couldn’t sustain such a project in May 2010, when the contract was awarded, and neither can it now.

“We are now coming across cases of grave irresponsibility committed in the past. The TGV project was one of them,” he said, adding that the Court of Auditors detected several irregularities and illegalities in the contract signed between the previous government and the consortium.

“We agree with the Court of Auditors and this is the end of the TGV project.”

Alternatives to the TGV rail line are now being discussed between the Portuguese, Spanish and French governments with the aim of creating rail links for commercial purposes linking Aveiro and Sines ports to the centre of Europe.