PRIME MINISTER José Sócrates officially opened Lisbon’s Rossio Station last Saturday morning.
He arrived at the station from Campolide at 11.30am after passing through the refurbished earthquake-proof Rossio Tunnel, which had been closed for three years.
The Prime Minister then took time to look around an exhibition on the station concourse which traces 150 years of railway history in Portugal and included a 19th century locomotive and a new state-of-the-art Alfa Pendular ‘leaning train’ which can reach speeds of 200 km/hour.
On Saturday and Sunday, thousands of Lisbon travellers packed the Comboios de Portugal (CP) suburban train services all day, taking advantage of a free service to mark the re-inauguration of both the tunnel and station.
During the afternoon, CP put on a special free train service between Roma Areeiro and Rossio to show off the specially floodlit renovated tunnel to members of the public.
The thousands of passengers that thronged onto Rossio’s station concourse had been so numerous that one of the escalators overheated, began smoking and broke down.
A musical show by eccentric jazz performers Maria João and Mário Laginha was put on at 6pm.
José Sócrates said that the reopening of the station and tunnel had solved “yet another point of blockage in the Greater Lisbon transport system” this being “the most urgent project of all.”
The Prime Minister also referred to the “contribution that the tunnel would bring to the Lisbon Metropolitan Area in improving the quality of life for Lisbon people”.
He praised the project as a “Lisbon icon” which combined “tradition with modernity” after an overall facelift which cost 60 million euros in all.
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