INTRO: Following the creation of infrastructure authority Refer, Portuguese Railways has embarked on the task of reorganising its operations as five business units. CP President Dr Crisóstomo Teixeira (right) spoke to Robert Preston in Lisboa

THE FIRST business unit to take shape under CP’s new management structure was Freight & Logistics (UTML), which began operating trains and terminals in February. With freight traffic up 28% in 1997 over the previous year, CP President Dr Crisóstomo Teixeira thinks the prospects are good for this unit. If this potential is fulfilled, he thinks it not unlikely that the government would attempt to privatise CP’s freight operations in around three year’s time.

Created with the assistance of Mercer Management Consulting, UTML is the first step in what Teixeira sees as a gentle - rather than revolutionary - reform of a ’monolithic’ structure. This aims to introduce market forces following a well-established organisational model (Fig 1).

Working to develop intermodal traffic, UTML will ultimately operate from between 12 and 18 terminals across Portugal. CP plans to retain ownership of these terminals, but sell much of its property holdings to the new infrastructure authority Refer (p257) to help reduce its level of debt. Another exception is likely to be suburban stations in Lisboa and Porto, where CP sees a commercial opportunity in maximising letting and development opportunities.

Passenger prospects

The next business unit to take shape was Greater Lisboa Suburban (USGL), which came into being in March. This comprises the divisions already established to manage the Sintra and Cascais lines, along with new divisions formed for suburban services on the main line to Porto (Linha do Norte) as far as Azambuja, the Lisboa circle route and Barreiro - Setúbal services south of the River Tagus. Gemini Consulting was commissioned to assist with the formation of the unit, including the drafting of an outline business plan.

The Greater Porto Suburban business unit (USGP) is being created from scratch, with the assistance of Roland Berger & Partner GmbH. With the 1000mm gauge routes to Póvoa de Varzim and Trofa due to form part of the city’s light metro system (RG 1.98 p10), the Porto unit will concentrate on running services to Aveiro, Marco de Canaveses, Braga and Guimarães.

Services to Aveiro and Santo Tirso are expected to come under the control of USGP later this year, with other routes added as current infrastructure projects are completed, such as electrification from Ermesinde to Cete and the conversion to 1668mm gauge of the 1000mm gauge Lousado - Guimarães route beyond Santo Tirso. As with all other infrastructure schemes, these projects are now the responsibility of Refer.

Rolling stock plans

To provide rolling stock for its Porto suburban routes, CP intends to cascade EMUs from Lisboa. For services between Lisboa and Azambuja, CP has ordered 12 four-car double-deck trainsets from GEC Alsthom Transport and CAF similar to the 18 ordered for the North-South link across the Tagus (p261). An extra four air-conditioned four-car units for the Sintra line have been ordered from Adtranz Portugal, with Siemens traction equipment.

Teixeira expects CP to call tenders in March for up to 44 EMUs, which would be ordered as an initial batch of 22 sets with an option for a further 22. These could be double-deck and might feature Flexliner-style gangway ends; 10 sets are to be equipped for 1·5 kV DC operation on the Cascais line.

The President describes himself as ’very unhappy’ over the delayed delivery of CP’s 10 Pendolino-derived tilting trainsets from Fiat Ferroviaria and Adtranz Portugal. With the first unit not now expected to arrive until July, it is unlikely that CP will be able to exploit the full publicity potential of the trains during Expo ’98, which is projected to bring over eight million visitors to Lisboa between May 22 and September 30.

Five trainsets are now expected by the end of this year, with the remainder to follow by 2000. Refer says it will complete the upgrading of the Linha do Norte by 2001, enabling the introduction of a 2h Lisboa - Porto journey time with the tilting trainsets.

Future rolling stock requirements for the Interurban & Regional business unit (UVIR) lack detail at present, although the A T Kearney consultancy has been contracted to assist with development of a business plan. Teixeira anticipates that CP could order Talgo rolling stock in conjunction with Spanish National Railways for the Sud Express, which links Lisboa and Porto to Hendaye on the French border, connecting with TGVs to and from Paris.

Another joint order might involve DMUs for the Porto - Vigo route, perhaps similar to Renfe’s Flexliner-derived TRD, which Teixeira describes as ’very interesting’. Other routes could receive new tilting or refurbished diesel rolling stock, but this very much depends on the long-term future of regional services. If political responsibility for these services passes to the eight regional administrations that the government is currently proposing, the CP President sees some form of operating concession model as ’acceptable, even inevitable’. In such a case, the national operator would compete vigorously to retain the contracts.

By 1999, it is intended that each business unit will have negotiated class-by-class maintenance contracts with EMEF, a wholly-owned subsidiary created from CP’s workshop division in 1992. It is hoped that the first contracts for wagons and suburban rolling stock will be in place this year.

Expressing some dissatisfaction with the present situation, and levels of availability in particular, Teixeira does not rule out calling tenders to stimulate competition in the Portuguese maintenance market. Successful bidders for contracts such as the 40-strong Cascais line EMU fleet might lease EMEF facilities or form joint ventures with the company. A decision on the structure of the new Traction & Rolling Stock business unit (UMAT) is expected in May.

The missing link

Tenders were received last December for Portugal’s first railway operating concession in recent years, covering commuter services between Roma/Areeiro and Fogueteiro over the North-South link across the river Tagus (p257). A winner is due to be announced in June from what Teixeira describes as an ’interesting’ selection of bidders, including GEC Alsthom, Stagecoach of Great Britain and CGEA of France, alongside national bus and construction companies.

The North-South link is expected to be complete by the end of this year, with revenue services due to start next March. The 18 double-deck EMUs ordered for the route will be purchased from CP by the chosen operator, and builder GEC Alsthom could be responsible for maintaining the fleet at Coina, beyond Fogueteiro on the south bank.

Teixeira believes that the link has enormous potential for the national network, provided that the 6 km gap can be closed between Coina and Penalva, currently the terminus of a freight branch from Pinhal Novo serving a Ford/Volkswagen factory. Building this missing link would connect routes north and south of the Tagus, in place of the ferry transfer from Barreiro to Lisboa for passengers or a detour via Vendas Novas and Setil for freight. Teixeira says that many expectations are riding on this project; should the government approve construction, the gap could be closed by 2001. o

CAPTION: Fig 1. Future structure of CP as envisaged after the current reform programme is completed; five new business units are being set up (green frames)

CAPTION: Contributing to the 28% increase in CP freight traffic during 1997 are the new Sines - Pego unit coal trains (top). Motive power includes 30 Siemens-built Class 5600 electric locos (above)

Le Portugal vient à bout de la division

Suite à la création de la direction de l’infrastructure, Refer, l’année dernière, les Chemins de fer portugais se sont embarqués dans une transformation progressive de leurs divisions d’exploitation en cinq unités commerciales. Refer va de l’avant avec de grands projets dont la modernisation de la ligne principale entre Lisbonne et Porto et la liaison nord-sud. Robert Preston parle des développements avec Crisóstomo Teixeira, président de CP, et Manuel Frasquilho, président de ReferCP führt neue Geschäftsbereiche ein

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