Vouga Historical Train at Aveiro

Photo: Andre Pires

Seasonal steam-hauled tourist trains run along the Vouga line.

PORTUGAL: Rail and road network manager Infraestruturas de Portugal has called tenders for the renovation and reopening of the central section of the 1 000 mm gauge Vouga line between Oliveira de Azemeis and Sernada do Vouga.

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The temporary terminus at Oliveira de Azeméis.

Linking Aveiro with Espinho south of Porto, the 96 km Vouga line is the only remaining narrow gauge line in Portugal open for commercial services. Currently, trains are only running over the outer ends between Espinho and Oliveira de Azemeis, and between Águeda and Aveiro. A seasonal steam-hauled tourist service runs between Aveiro, Águeda and Macinhata do Vouga; a branch to Viseu was closed in the early 1990s.

Reconstruction of the 30 km between Oliveira de Azeméis and Sernada do Vouga at a cost of €4·9m is expected to begin later this year for completion by the end of 2023. Work will focus on track renewals, including replacement of wooden sleepers, and the automation of level crossings.

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The central section of the line has been out of use since 2013 because of poor track condition.

Revenue services have been suspended since 2013, although trains have used the section when moving to and from national operator CP’s workshop at Sernada do Vouga. A taxi shuttle has been operating over the route twice daily for the past eight years.

Further investment of around €34m has been allocated to renovating the rest of the line by 2025, and the national PNI2030 capital programme has suggested that up to €100m could be spent reactivating sections of moribund narrow gauge railway around the country.