Due for completion in 2006, the second line of the Recife metro will serve the airport and areas south of the city. Murray Hughes visited the line with Metrorec General Manager Sileno Sousa Guedes

STRETCHING along the shore of the South Atlantic ocean, Recife is a cosmopolitan city that is home to 3·3 million people.

Metrorec began operating the city's first metro line on behalf of CBTU, the Brazilian Urban Train Co, in 1985, and the first stage of a second line opened on February 28 this year. Work is now in hand to complete the second line by the end of 2006.

Metrorec's original line ran from Recife's former main line passenger station - now a small railway museum - to Werneck, site of the network control centre. This has since been extended to form a 29·3 km Y-shaped route serving termini at Jaboatão and Camaragibe, the most recent section being the 4·5 km from Rodovi? ria to Camaragibe.

Although described as a metro, the service is effectively a suburban railway with 1600mm gauge EMUs carrying around 185000 passengers a day. When the South Line opens, the number of trips is expected to jump to 400000 a day. According to General Manager Sileno Sousa Guedes, the new line has an important social role to play as it will give access to employment areas that at the moment can only be reached with difficulty from the southern part of the city.

South Line trains will run from the present Recife terminus to Joana Bezerra, where the new alignment starts. This shares a trackbed with a metre-gauge freight route, running roughly parallel to the coast for 10·2 km. Since February trains have been running 'on an experimental basis' on weekdays from Recife to Largo da Paz and Imbiribeira where they terminate at an island platform.

Beyond here the new line runs through the Boa Viagem district where it is separated from the attractive beach by a heavily-developed area with numerous high rise blocks of apartments and hotels. From here it continues south to serve commercial and development zones before passing close to Guararapes airport, which has its own station linked by a 600m moving walkway to the airline terminal.

Three more intermediate stations are provided at Porta Larga, Monte dos Guararapes and Prazeres before the terminus is reached at Cajueiro Seco. Here interchange is provided to a diesel-worked metre-gauge suburban passenger service from Cabo to Curado; the rolling stock and seven diesel locos used for this line are to be refurbished.

Six stations on the South Line will offer interchange to local bus services; at the moment 77000 passengers a day change to and from buses on the existing Metrorec routes to Jabotão and Camaragibe.

Civil works along the new double-track alignment have been completed, and at the moment work is in progress to install signalling, telecommunications and 3 kV DC overhead electrification equipment. A single metre-gauge track has been retained for use by freight trains operated by Companhia Ferroviaria do Nordeste.

As no new trains are being built for the new line, it will share the fleet of 25 four-car EMUs that work the existing Y-shaped route, where a 5min headway is provided during peak periods. The 25 sets are unlikely to suffice in the long term, and Sousa estimates that five more will be needed.

All 25 EMUs are being refurbished by TTrans, which is working with MGE, responsible for electrical systems, Equipferr, which is supplying air-conditioning, and brakes specialist Knorr-Bremse. The first four sets have been refitted and have re-entered service. Passengers have already commented favourably on the air-conditioning - a major benefit where outside temperatures may reach 35°C. All trains will have been refurbished by the end of 2006.

Total cost of the project is US$204m, half of which is coming from central government and half from the World Bank.

  • CAPTION: New track and electrification for the South line in position alongside the metre-gauge freight route at Imbiribeira. The line will add nine stations to the Metrorec network
  • CAPTION: Each refurbished four-car EMU is designed to carry more than 1500 passengers
  • CAPTION: Security guards are prominent on the Metrorec network