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Launch on hold

01 May 1999

CELEBRATIONS were planned in Lisboa for April 25. The day marked the 25th anniversary of the 1974 coup when Portugal's Junta of National Salvation replaced dictatorship rule dating back to 1933, and it had also been chosen for the launch of a long-awaited rail service. For the first time trains were due to run over the famous bridge across the Tagus which has been rebuilt with a rail deck. The symbolism was poignant, as the structure is known as the 25 de Abril bridge.

Pending a last minute decision, it looked as if the inauguration would be postponed. By mid-April only three of the 18 double-deck EMUs had been delivered to cross-Tagus concessionaire Fertagus.

Suggestions that Sintra line EMUs would suffice initially were not favoured by Fertagus or the government, both of which wanted to see the service from Lisboa to Fogueteiro and Coina launched in full with appropriate fanfare. Portuguese Railways, under contract to Fertagus, has run the first set up to 150 km/h, and acceptance was expected last month. The problems appear to be logistical, as the work is split between three suppliers - Alstom and CAF in Spain, with final assembly by Adtranz at Amadora.

Also due for April 25 was the launch of Pendolino tilting trains to Porto from Pragal, the first station on the south side of the Tagus, but this was also likely to be shelved. CP said in mid-April that the service would start 'soon', but from Lisboa Santa Apolonia. Likely launch date for the trans-Tagus trains is now May 26.

  • Adtranz Portugal is to fit air-conditioning in the 42 Sintra line EMUs delivered in 1992-96. It hopes to contract one-third of the work to EMEF, the former CP maintenance division. Adtranz plans to win maintenance contracts suffered a setback when Fertagus decided to maintain the double-deckers itself.