The strategy for Portuguese railways 2014-2050

Posted: 1 October 2015 | | No comments yet

Infraestruturas de Portugal, the State-owned company established from the recent merging of REFER, E.P.E.,(railways administrator) and EP-Estradas de Portugal, E.P., (road administrator), both former public infrastructure managers, is putting together an ambitious programme to expand and modernise the rail network in Portugal, supported by EU funds, with a total investment of approximately €2.75 billion. António Ramalho, CEO of Infraestruturas de Portugal, provides more information.

Portuguese railways

On 1 June 2015, road and rail infrastructure began to be managed by a single company – Infraestruturas de Portugal. This arose from a joint, integrated and complementary strategy which is engaged in the conception, design, construction, financing, maintenance, operation, rehabilitation, enlargement and modernisation of road and national railway networks, including the command and control of train movements.

Infraestruturas de Portugal is positioned as manager of multimodal mobility, enhancing the asset management, synergies and new recipes to ensure the provision of a sustainable, safe and efficient service.

Programme to expand and modernise the rail network in Portugal

Within the Portuguese strategy for railways 2014–2050, and according to the principle of co-modality, evolution of the national rail network must realise and respect the role of other modes of transport and occupy the space where the path of the railroad is more efficient and competitive.

The Portuguese rail network should be developed in accordance with the following strategic objectives:

  • To promote the transportation of goods, facilitating the movement of cargo between the main national and international hubs, contributing to the competitiveness of the national economy
  • To strengthen accessibility and urban mobility ensuring the efficiency of urban and suburban character connections, together with other modes of transport, individually or collectively
  • To strengthen the accessibility and long-distance mobility, ensuring competitive links along the Atlantic Axis and contributing to its cohesion and strengthening the socio-economic position of the country in the Iberian context and to promote social and territorial cohesion with a view to reducing regional disparities.

The rail network will tend to be fully electrified at 25kW, equipped with control-command and signalling systems according to the European standard (ERTMS/ETCS) and the main freight corridors with complete terms of interoperability and prepared for 750m-long trains to travel and with 1,400 tonnes of cargo in simple traction.

The realisation of the network’s strategy, estimated to be finished by 2050, will include intermediate targets corresponding to the years 2020 and 2030, with different priorities of action for each of the periods.

Investment Programme PETI 3+

Northern Corridor: Axis Aveiro–Vilar Formoso

Construction is planned for 2015–2021 with an estimated investment of €1.304 billion.

This project aims at strengthening the rail link from the North and Centre of Portugal with Europe in order to enable efficient rail freight transportation, thus promoting increased competitiveness of the national economy. It also has the objective of restoring the securities in order to overcome the successive delays that have occurred, with a strong impact on the quality perceived by passengers.

Interventions will be developed to ensure: a) the railway corridor interoperability at national, Iberian and European – providing it with bi-gauge (1,668mm + 1,435mm); b) eliminate constraints in terms of infrastructure of the Beira Alta line; and c) allow the movement of 750m-long freight trains.

A concordance between the lines of Beira Alta–North to ensure direct flow of traffic with origin/destination north of the Pampilhosa station and assessed the correctness of ramps on the itinerary will be built.

The project also comprises the electrification extension of the port of the city of Aveiro, including sorting lines and increasing the length of the line shipping/receiving Extension Private Portucel Cacia.

South Corridor: Sines–Caia Axis

Construction is planned for 2016–2022 with an estimated investment of €772.80 billion.

This project aims to strengthen the rail link to the port of Sines, with a view to increasing its attractiveness as a gateway to Europe, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, extending its hinterland and articulating with other links to the ports of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon and the city of Setúbal.

The purpose of conducting this international rail link is to provide more efficient freight transportation, whether between a source and a final destination or as part of an intermodal logistics chain, thus promoting increased competitiveness of the national economy.

It will even enhance the mobility of people between the regions of Alentejo and Lisbon and Tagus valley and strengthen the external connectivity of the territory.

The project comprises the construction of new sections, including the connection of the Sines Grândola North and Évora / Caia link, as well as the modernisation of the existing sections, a corridor which should ensure conditions of rail interoperability in the Iberian national and European level. This railway line will be electrified, equipped with electronic signalling and will ensure the passage of 750m-long trains. The project also includes the correction of ramps and the electrification of the Private Extension of Petrogal Sines.

Atlantic Axis: Minho line

Construction is scheduled for 2016–2021 with an estimated investment of €156.4 billion.

The design of the Minho line modernisation is aimed in order to strengthen the conditions for mobility of people and goods in the regions of Greater Oporto and the Alto Minho province in Portugal, and those with the Spanish region of Galicia.

Interventions will be developed in conjunction with Spain guaranteeing rail interoperability along the corridor. The infrastructure should allow the crossing and the movement of 750m-long freight trains.

The completion of electrification will allow operators to take advantage of the investment already made in this line and enhance the allocation of electric traction material, conditions for programming schedules and consequently the optimisation of operating models, creating competitive conditions for railway operation.

The project comprises the electrification of Nine–Valencia/Frontier, the route of duplication between the towns of Contumil and Ermesinde, increasing the effective length for receiving/shipping convoys in the Darque Terminal and electrificated extensions of private SN Longos Maia and Secil in Trofa.

Atlantic Axis: Northern Line

Construction is scheduled for 2015–2021 with an estimated investment of €357.1 billion.

This rehabilitation project of the Northern Line, the backbone of the national railway network and part of a development strategy based on the principles of increased efficiency, competitiveness and sustainability of the transport system, boosting economic growth and increased social and territorial cohesion, comes from a critical intervention for the development of the railway system.

The completion of rehabilitation aims to provide this line of homogeneous operating conditions, eliminating constraints by increasing levels of safety and reliability of the infrastructure.

The rehabilitation prevents degradation of the infrastructure and will reset the threshold of the average speeds of 140km/h, not allowing, however, the increase of the TVM (maximum speed table) it will promote no major trace changes. Interventions range in eliminating additional margins currently anticipated in the Network Directory. They should also allow the crossing and movement of 750m-long freight trains.

The project includes interventions in the sections not yet modernised, the tripling of the section north of Alverca/Castanheira do Ribatejo and the elimination of constraints on the Tagus Valley Terminal and the Bobadela Terminal – and respective links to the National Railway Network.

Portuguese investment plans up to 2020

Infraestruturas de Portugal foresees a total investment of €5.28 billion in road and rail networks, among which there are €3.56 billion for railway projects.

Investment plans

Finally, and once defined with the central axes of our performance in terms of investment, a clear privilege to railway efficiency is expected, including freight transport, as in developing co-modality and inter-modality, and even optimising the structure on the vertical axis Lisbon–Oporto standpoint of mobility.


António Ramalho is Chief Executive Officer of Infraestruturas de Portugal which, from 1 June 2015, manages the Portuguese road and railway infrastructures. António has held management positions at banks including Pinto & Sotto Mayor, Totta & Acores, Credito Predial Portugues and Chemical Finance, where he was responsible for the areas of Strategic Planning, Operational Marketing and Management Control. António was also in the Executive Committee of the Santander Totta Group and Vice President of Millenium BCP Bank. In the transport and infrastructures sector, António was Financial Manager at RAVE (the Portuguese High-Speed Rail Project), Chairman of the Board at CP-Comboios de Portugal and at EP-Estradas de Portugal, as well as Chairman at REFER (the Portuguese railway manager).

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