INTRO: Following its transformation from a national railway to a train operator, Comboios do Portugal is looking to play a bigger role on the European stage. President António Ramalho explained to Chris Jackson his plans to develop the business

’WE ARE putting Portugal on the European railway map’, insists António Ramalho, President of the country’s state-owned train operator Comboios do Portugal. Recently elected to the board of the Community of European Railways, Ramalho wants to take advantage of his position to bring best practice to his distant corner of the continent’s rail network.

The next five years will be a challenging time for CP. Building on eight years of experience with vertical separation, the government is moving to implement EU directives on deregulation of freight and passenger operations and the introduction of contracts to run unprofitable services. Construction of the two new high speed lines (p86) will also change the shape of Portugal’s rail industry.

As part of this process, CP launched its Leader 2010 programme at the end of 2004. According to Ramalho, it has three main strands: