Portugal announces high-speed green rail ambitions

Portugal has announced new high speed trains that could cut journey times in half, in a statement on a major update to the Iberian rail system. Reuters reported the plans, made public on Thursday, which offer rail links in every district and high-speed trains in Portugal’s ten biggest cities, as Portugal tries to meet its sustainability commitments.

Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos said the aim of the new works was to modernize the country’s national railway infrastructure and make it more environmentally friendly.

There is no formal international standard fare in place for high-speed rail, but for newer routes it is generally agreed to travel at 250 km/h. Santos said that on the new network, the trip between Lisbon or Porto and Madrid could be completed in around three hours. Travel times from Lisbon to Porto (about 314 km) would be cut in half, to just 85 minutes.

Extraordinarily, until 1999, there was no railway crossing over the Tagus in Lisbon. Trains from the Algarve terminated at Barreiro on the southern shore and passengers were obliged to cross the waterway by ferry. Now, just 23 years later, a third crossing over the mighty river will be created, in addition to the 2.3 km 25 de Abril suspension bridge and the impressive 12 km Vasco de Gama cable-stayed bridge.

Federico Francisco, coordinator of the works planning group, said the new Chelas-Barreiro bridge would reduce the time needed to reach Lisbon from southern Portugal by at least 30 minutes, as well as improving the Barreiro rail connection. and Moita to the capital.

Improving train travel is part of a strategy to encourage drivers to ditch their cars and help Portugal achieve its sustainability goals, such as the 2045 carbon neutral target. The ambition is increase the share of rail passengers to 20%, compared to 4.6% today. The target for rail freight is a 40% share, compared to only 13% currently.

According to Eurostat, Germany achieves the highest rail freight transport performance in the EU, accounting for a whopping 31% of the EU total. Meanwhile, Spain has the largest high-speed network in Europe, with 3,762 km of lines in service (as of June 2021). France comes second with 2800 km. And when it comes to fastest trains in the world, China can claim two, Japan has one, and the rest are in Europe. Can you guess where?

Jose P. Rogers