PORTUGAL: The ViaPORTO consortium has been awarded a €170m contract to operate and maintain the Metro do Porto light rail network for five years from April 1.

ViaPORTO comprises Grupo Barraqueiro, which operates the Fertagus suburban rail and Metro Sul do Tejo light rail services in Lisboa, infrastructure maintenance company Manvia, and international transport operators Arriva and Keolis. The consortium said its bid was selected as the best financially and technically.

The unsuccessful bidders were Veolia and an Efacec/Transdev joint venture. Transdev currently operates the network for Normetro, the consortium which received the contract to design, build, operate and maintain Phase 1 of Metro do Porto in December 1998. Opened from 2002, the standard-gauge network now covers five lines totalling 60 route-km and 70 stations and carries 50 million passengers a year.

To satisfy demand on the network, 30 Bombardier Flexity Swift LRVs entered service on January 8. From February 1 the Red Line will be worked exclusively by the new vehicles, releasing Eurotrams to provide more capacity on the Blue and Green lines.

* In November a €22·8m contract was awarded to Bento Pedroso - Construções SA to build the 600 m Yellow Line extension between D João II and Santo Ovídio, which is due for completion in early 2011.