Photos: Luis Almeida

PORTUGAL: The entry into service of CP’s first ex-RENFE ARCO locomotive-hauled coaches was marked by a ceremony at Valença on July 28, attended by Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos and CP Vice-President Pedro Moreira.

The heavily refurbished coaches will be used on services on the recently electrified Minho Valley main line which runs along the coast north of Porto to the Spanish border and Vigo. The vehicles are also to be used on a daily return inter-regional service between Valença and Figueira da Foz.


The ARCO coaches can run at up to 200 km/h and have been refurbished with USB sockets for charging electronic devices, LED lighting and a passenger information system developed internally by CP. The interior fittings and toilets have been refreshed and air-conditioning installed.

CP is putting 36 ARCO cars into traffic as the refurbishment programme is completed. Nine are first class coaches with a capacity for 56 seats, 18 are standard class cars with 80 seats and nine are composite café-bar cars with 55 seats, of which 30 are kept unreserved; these vehicles also have space for up to eight bicycles.

CP acquired a total of 50 hauled coaches of three types from RENFE in 2020 for €1·5m. The first were renovated by July 2021, but the national safety authority only approved their use on July 14 this year.

CP is planning to put three coaches into service every two months. The ARCO refurbishment programme has involved around 50 Portuguese companies, which corresponds to approximately 95% of the total content. Components including seats, curtains, and power supply equipment were sourced locally, and the renovation has cost approximately €186 000 per car.

As more of the coaches enter service, CP plans to expand their use to cover more of its loco-hauled Intercidades services across the country.