Sintra line commuters trickling back.jpg

Sintra line commuters trickling back

PASSENGER NUMBERS are still down on the Sintra line one month after the reopening of Rossio station and tunnel.

One sign of less-than-expected commuter numbers is the decision by Portuguese national railway company CP (Comboios de Portugal) to divert four rush-hour trains from Rossio to Roma-Areeiro station in Lisbon’s Avenida de Roma from last week.

CP claims that it is still too early to evaluate the return of passengers to the Sintra-Rossio line that have been trickling, rather than flooding, back following three years of extensive engineering works in the tunnel and a complete facelift at the late 19th century station.

In October 2004, when the tunnel and station were closed because of structural security concerns, the stretch of line into Rossio was used by 60,000 commuters per day between Mondays and Fridays.

“We haven’t got new figures yet on passenger numbers since the station has only been open a month, but we’re working on it,” said CP spokesman Carlos Madeira.

Even so, the company says that it doesn’t expect the same volume of passenger traffic enjoyed before 2004, since there were other alternatives to entering the city such as Roma-Areeiro station opened in 2005.

However, according to CP, most passengers agree from surveys that the 2.6km journey through the tunnel “is much more pleasant”. The tunnel, built in 1887 between Campolide and Rossio stations, is lit up while trains can now go up to 90km/h, an increase of 30 km/h.

CP has also promised that it will refurbish and modernise its entire train fleet over the next few years.