THE TGV high speed rail link from Madrid to Lisbon could temporarily enter the city via the 25 de Abril bridge if the proposed Chelas-Barreiro bridge falls behind schedule, it was revealed on Monday.
However, the bridge, built in 1966, would have to be adapted to take the state-of-the-art train, which would then use a conventional line of track between Pinhal Novo and the Oriente station, meaning that its speed would be greatly reduced to around 140kph.
The possibility was admitted by the organisation responsible for the Portuguese arm of the TGV high-speed rail link, Rede Ferroviária de Alta Velocidade (RAVE).
The line between Lisbon and the Spanish border is to be divided into two distinct trunks with different contracts for the construction. One will be between Lisbon and Poceirão and the other between Poceirão and Caia, on the Portuguese border with Spain.
The latter section which crosses the Altentejo plains is relatively easy to build, but the former stretch including a 13km bridge spanning the River Tejo, is an extremely complicated engineering project likely to delay the initially projected completion time for the TGV.
According to the latest forecasts, the TGV will be up and running on Portuguese territory by 2013.
The projected, but not specified delay, however, would mean that speeds of up to 300kph would only be achieved on the south bank of the River Tejo to Madrid.
Meanwhile, the Spanish government has not yet confirmed when the high speed line between Madrid and Badajoz will be completed.
The Spanish Minister for Public Works, Daniel Salado, has officially said that the government hopes to have the line completed by 2010.
Bringing the high speed train across the 25 de Abril bridge would, claim RAVE, be relatively easy and only involve an interconnecting mechanism on the tracks at Porceirão, adding around 35 minutes onto the journey time from Madrid’s Atocha station to Lisbon’s Oriente station.
The Portuguese Secretary of State for Transport, Ana Paula Vitorino, said on Monday that tickets would cost around 100 euros from Lisbon to Madrid with supersaver tickets costing around 42 euros.
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