PORTUGAL’s railway network is to be modernised over the next three years at a cost of Esc600bn, according to plans announced on December 23 by Minister of Planning João Cravinho. To be funded by the government and the European Union, the package will build on the separate infrastructure and operating companies due to take over from CP this year (RG 12.96 p780). The package covers the introduction of tilting trains on the Lisboa - Porto main line and upgrading to cut journey times on the Lisboa - Algarve route.
The restructuring also marks a switch to contract operation on commuter and rural passenger routes, where the government retains control over fares. This will ensure that subsidies are targeted on specific services, rather than meeting CP’s overall loss of Esc1bn a week. Cravinho anticipates that the contracts will gradually be opened up to competition to drive down subsidies. An independent regulator is being appointed under the restructuring to oversee competition, fares and investment. o