Government says it is impossible to reinforce trains in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area

“We do not have the infrastructure capacity to increase the number of trains in circulation,” said the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, in a statement to journalists about trains at AML, in the presence of the president of CP, Nuno Freitas, and the vice president of Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) Carlos Fernandes.

Cristina Bernardo

Comboios de Portugal (CP) does not have the capacity to increase the number of trains in circulation in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (AML), said the Minister of Infrastructure today, revealing that the possibility of changing schedules is being studied.

“We do not have the infrastructure capacity to increase the number of trains in circulation,” said the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, in a statement to journalists about trains at AML, in the presence of the president of CP, Nuno Freitas, and the vice president of Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) Carlos Fernandes.

Since the beginning of the lack of definition due to the covid-19 pandemic, on May 04, that CP “has 100% of the available supply” at AML, reinforced the government official, referring that “there are no more trains to add, they are all circulating and then, there are limitations on the capacity of the infrastructure that can only be changed when fund investments are made, namely in the Sintra Line ”.

In this context, CP and IP are studying the possibility of, with schedule changes, “marginally strengthening the capacity” of trains at AML, a job for which it is not yet possible to have a perception of the result.

“Because any change in schedules will imply changes in schedules across the country, so we will have to do this job that will last for a few months, but I don't want to create high expectations, because the gains, if possible, we still don't know if they are, they will always be marginal ”, emphasized Pedro Nuno Santos, explaining that the priority intervention is on the Sintra Line, where there is greater demand during rush hour.

According to the Minister of Infrastructure, the study will take “about three months”, and is expected to be completed in September, “but only to know what is possible to do in terms of capacity strengthening, with the change of schedules”.

The decisions will be later, because “the times of the Sintra line have to be made compatible with the schedules of the trains that go to the Algarve, of the trains that come from the North Line to the Cintura Line, with the Fertagus trains, with the freight transport trains, so all schedules ended up being affected, ”explained the governor who oversees CP.

"It is a job that takes some time and without certainty that in the end it means that we can increase capacity", declared Pedro Nuno Santos.

Asked about the sensitization of passengers to avoid hours of greater demand, the minister rejected this idea, arguing that "people depend on the train to reach the workplace" and "there are no great alternatives" to this means of transport.

“We do not have strong alternatives to the train”, reinforced the holder of the Infrastructure portfolio, considering that the offer of buses cannot compete with the trains, because “a train carries at its maximum load 2.000 people on the Sintra Line”, while a bus takes 50 people.

“A train from Sintra to Entrecampos takes about 40 minutes. A bus, as you know, not being able to go on the railway line, has to enter the IC17 ”, warned the government official, stressing that these are two“ completely different ”means of transport.

Although the bus is not an alternative, in terms of transport capacity and speed, “if the private companies that manage fleets of buses can increase their fleet, that marginally will obviously help mobility”, pointed out Pedro Nuno Santos.

Regarding the adjustment of workers' schedules, including in the State's services and companies, to avoid the demand concentrated in peak hours, the minister acknowledged that it would help to spread the demand for more schedules in public transport, adding that “it is all a job that, probably, the country and the big urban centers and the Portuguese society will have a day to discuss ”.

"It is probably one of the most effective ways to be able to reduce the pressure on peak hours", maintained the government official.

Last week, of the 730 trains that circulated on the Sintra Line, 10 approached 2/3 of the capacity and there was one that exceeded that maximum capacity, according to CP data, which considers periods between 06 am as peak hours: 00 and 09:30 and between 16:30 and 20:00.

So far, CP has carried out more than 52 thousand disinfections on trains, which corresponds to an average of 519 vehicles per day, and the company intends to proceed with Covid Safe certification.

Portugal accounts for at least 1.568 deaths associated with covid-19 in 41.912 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

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