LISBON’S UNDERGROUND system reached bursting point recently due to the increased number of passengers caused by the closure of Rossio train station. According to the metro’s public relations department, this situation could continue until the station’s tunnel is re-opened.
The daily problems start when Sete Rios metro station opens its doors for the morning rush hour, but now, as well as welcoming its usual passengers, an increasing flow of commuters, who usually take the train to Restauradores, also arrive. The large number of people trying to travel has even forced station staff and police officers to accompany passengers to the platform and form a human chain around them in order to ensure their safety on occasion.
According to a member of staff at the station, “at rush hour, there are more people than floor space” and swarms of passengers collect next to the automatic barriers to the platform for the metro that goes downtown to Baixa-Chiado. “Despite this, as far as possible, everything is functioning in an orderly fashion,” the metro worker claimed.
“Under the circumstances, we cannot do more, this line is functioning at its maximum capacity, however we are not able to control tickets and passes because at rush hour this would be just impossible. We advise people to allow half an hour extra for their journey,” he added.
Passengers are clearly unhappy about the situation. One commuter, Sofia, said that her journey from Queluz to Restauradores, which usually takes around 20 minutes, was now taking her between “one and one and a half hours”.
Tunnel ceiling falling down
The Rossio tunnel was closed for an indefinite period after a decision was taken by Refer (Rede Ferroviária Nacional), the national rail network, due to the findings of a safety report made by the Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil (the National Department of Civil Engineers).
According to the President of Refer, Brancaamp Sobral, the problem is with the ceiling of the tunnel which is in danger of falling down – a long term problem which has been getting gradually worse. The length of time for the closure is likely to be known within the next 10 days.
It is not only people travelling to work who are being inconvenienced by the closure, local businesses such as Rossio’s tabacarias and cafés are suffering, as they have lost the trade of the commuters who were using the rail route.