Portuguese Transport Minister Antonio Mexia has announced plans for a high speed line between Lisboa and Porto.
Five options were examined by RAVE, the company responsible for planning and building high speed lines in Portugal, and Refer, the national rail infrastructure authority which owns 40% of RAVE. The ministry has chosen a scheme requiring 230 km of new line built to 1435mm gauge that would permit a Lisboa - Porto journey time of 1h 35min. The approaches to Lisboa and Porto would use existing 1668mm gauge tracks, an arrangement requiring gauge-changing rolling stock.
Other options included upgrading of the existing broad gauge line and construction of a new 1435mm gauge line over the entire distance between the two cities that would give a 1h 10min journey time.
Target date for completing the new line is 2012, with the cost estimated at €2·2bn, plus €1·3bn for upgrading 75 km of existing lines on the approaches to Lisboa and Porto. A fleet of 18 gauge-changing trainsets would cost €224m, and €72m is to be spent on station construction and modernisation.
Forecasts put traffic at 4·8 million passengers in 2012, rising to 7·5 million in 2020 and 10 million in 2030. The project was announced just weeks before a general election on February 20, and plans are also moving ahead for a high speed line linking Lisboa with Madrid that would offer a journey time of less than 3h; Mexia said in January that route studies for a line from Aveiro via Viseu to the Spanish frontier will be completed this year.