Algarve politicians are in uproar over an article by Público newspaper that suggests the government is ditching multi-million plans to revamp the Algarve’s decrepit railway line.
At risk is the last government’s pledge to see the whole line brought into the 21st century, and a link constructed to connect Faro airport to the rest of the region.
The €55 million investment was part of the previous government’s strategic plan for transports (PETI). But Público’s story has not yet been officially confirmed.
Nonetheless, it is causing a local furore, with politicians of all colours coming out in force.
“The Algarve people will certainly show their disapproval,” Portimão’s Socialist mayoress Isilda Gomes told the paper, saying the line’s electrification is “essential”.
Faro’s PSD mayor Rogério Bacalhau also criticised the move, saying that the Algarve never wins when it comes to priority investments, forever being considered just a holiday destination.
PSD Algarve is now demanding to know the truth, saying if Público’s story is true, it is the new government’s “first blow” to the region.
President of hotel and tourism association AHETA, Elidérico Viegas, has stepped into the storm, stressing that Faro Airport is one of the few airports in the world that does not have a railway link.
The much-needed investment plan was to be bolstered by EU funding and completed by 2020, explains Público – calculating that electrification would actually save around €400,000 per year in fuel.
By MICHAEL BRUXO firstname.lastname@example.org