The 38.5km railway section between Tunes and Faro (pictured) is already electrified. Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP

Portugal’s brave new plan for railways to be approved by government by March 2022

Portugal’s ‘brave new plan’ for upgrading the nation’s creaking railway system is to be approved by the government by March 2022.

That means debates have to move forwards beforehand. The idea is for five ‘regional debate sessions’ until June this year – and citizens are being given their opportunities to ‘contribute’ as well.

Say reports, any citizen can send their contributions through this page on the internet. 

The link sends people to an online form with no substance as to what the government may be planning. This will come clearer after the regional debates have taken place.

In other words, ‘we’re on a slow train’ to discovering how the powers-that-be- intend to take Portugal’s railways into the 21st century.

According to Dinheiro Vivo, a first version of the plan will be drawn up between July and October (allowing for people’s suggestions to be brought on board); then there will be a ‘new period of public consultation’ with ‘competent territorial entities’.

Then on the basis of this second effort, the final document will be delivered to the government for ‘later approval by the Council of Ministers’.

The underlying idea is to have trains running to every district capital; take railways to ports and airports, define ‘national lines’ as opposed to ‘regional’ and ‘metropolitan’, assure  the transportation of merchandise and ‘guarantee connection with Spain’.

Considering Spain has been Portugal’s neighbour since the beginning of time, it is quite something to think that very few direct rail links exist.

Railway enthusiasts in the Algarve for example have to get out of trains at Vila Real de Santo António (closest town to the border) and ‘find alternative means’ to travel east as the next railway station is 60kms from the Spanish frontier…

Enthusiasts website ‘amigoscaminhosferros.pt’ explains “the situation is so extreme that if you want to travel by rail from the Algarve to Spain using only trains you first have to travel to Lisbon.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com