Minister Pedro Nuno Santos trying out a Glovo bike (Transport Research Arena on Facebook)

“We must get people out of cars and into trains,” says minister

Minister says trains are best solution for transport decarbonisation

Portugal must focus on developing its railway and getting more people out of cars and into trains.

So said Portugal’s Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, at the Transport Research Arena (TRA) Conference, which is taking place at Lisbon’s Congress Centre until Thursday.

“The railway is one of the most viable solutions for climate transition,” said Santos at the conference’s opening session, repeating his belief that trains are the way forward for a greener transportation sector.

Speaking to an audience of researchers, scholars, industry representatives and politicians from all over Europe, the minister stressed that the sector must act and transform quickly, not only to meet the climate goals set by the Green Deal, but also to finally move forward with plans for an interconnected transportation network which has been talked about for years.

Santos believes these goals can be achieved by also “contributing to a circular economy and innovation,” namely by fixing or renovation existing assets, such as the recent renovation of several train carriages which are due to begin being used again next year.

The minister elaborated further while speaking to reporters after the conference, stating that it is “fundamental to get cars off the road and people out of cars.” The goal is to get more and more people using public transportation.

Simply replacing combustion engines for electric ones is not the right solution, said the minister, adding that the transition to electric-powered vehicles should happen gradually.

“The industry would not be able to produce so quickly all the (power) that is necessary, and making that transition would not solve all the mobility problems we have in cities,” he said.

Public transports, especially trains, are the way forward, which means we need more trains, and more people using them,” the minister added.

On a closing note, he said that this strategy has the full backing of the government and Economy Minister, António Costa e Silva.

By Michael Bruxo

michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com