The Cascais Line, often known in Britain as the 'Estoril Line', provides an attractive excursion from Lisbon for a number of reasons:
it is convenient; the starting point is at Cais do Sodré, which is on the Metro system (Green Line) and is only five minutes' walk from the Praça do Comércio or an even shorter tram ride from there (on route #15 or 18).
The line connects Lisbon (Cais do Sodré station) and the coastal resorts of Estoril and Cascais. Cascais, where the route terminates,is 26km from Cais do Sodré. The line opened, from Cascais to Pedrouços on
30 September 1889. (Pedrouços station was taken out of commission about 100 years later but remains of its platforms could still be seen afterwards, between Belém and Algés). Services reached Alcântara-Mar on 6 December 1890 and finally arrived at Cais do Sodré on 4 September, 1895.
By 1924 the line had been leased to the Sociedade Estoril, which remained outside the CP (Portuguese Railways) network until 1976. The service was electrified at 1500 volts from 1926. In 1950 new stock was ordered from Cravens of
Sheffield and GEC of Manchester. The Portuguese manufacturer produced more new stock in 1959, albeit with GEC equipment, to a stainless-steel Budd design. Subsequently the Cravens cars were repainted in silver and all the
fleet has worn a bright yellow window band since 1991.
Further stock deliveries allowed the introduction of seven-car trains from 1971. These continue today; peak services normally operate with seven-car mixtures of Cravens and Sorefame types.
Cascais station, looking towards Lisbon, with the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
A Cascais Line timetable booklet.
Services run from c.0530 to c.0330 each day, although they terminate slightly earlier outside the summer period. They comprise a tightly scheduled combination of through trains to/from Cascais, with up to twelve services an hour leaving Cais do Sodré. Trains operate a variety of services, with the standard pattern being semi-fast services to Cascais interspersed by short-runnings which stop at all stations to the intermediate stop at
Oeiras (17km from Cais do Sodré).
At peak times there are also a few services to São Pedro; at such times three services can leave Cais do Sodré within a five minute period. One of these services will only stop at Alcântara, Algés, Oeiras, Carcavelos,
Parede and will terminate at S. Pedro. The next train will duplicate these stops but go forward to S. Pedro and then all stations to Cascais. The third service will terminate at Oeiras but stop at all stations. Timings are such that passengers catching a stopping train need only cross the platforms at Oeiras or S. Pedro and wait two minutes before the Cascais service arrives.
There are also some 'all stations to Cascais' ("Cascais TODAS") services. These take 40 minutes; the normal semi-fast daytime services to Cascais take 32 minutes. Timetables may be found at the web site of Portuguese Railways, CP.
To avoid getting on the wrong train look closely at the indicators. Services saying "Cascais TODAS" stop at every station but in peak periods Cascais trains do not stop at every station and the word TODAS (all stations) is therefore not displayed. At peak times alternate services run to "Oeiras TODAS" , i.e. they stop at all stations to and including Oeiras, where they terminate.
The route serves seventeen stations and for much of its length follows the Tagus estuary and Atlantic coast. On the pre-1998 stock, you could find fold-up seats at the front of the train, adjacent to the driver's cab, which afforded an excellent view of the route but these have now all gone. For river and sea-views, however, the left-hand side of the train is preferable. Sitting on the right affords good views of the Jerónimos monastery at Belém. A description of the route will be found below:
CAIS DO SODRÉ (0km) The station, has a walkway link to the Estação Fluvial (River-Ferry Terminal, with services to Cacilhas) and lies about a ten-minute walk, or a short tram-ride (service 15) from the Praça do Comércio. A Metro station, on the Green Line, which originally had its own subterranean waterfall, was opened in 1998 at Cais do Sodré. The proposed Metro link from here to Santa Apolónia station via a new station to be built at the Terreiro do Paço river-ferry terminal opened several years late due to tunnelling problems at the riverside. Stairs and escalators have been installed on the refurbished platforms to allow direct access down to the Metro station below. By the end of station remodelling in 1999 there were six tracks serving three platforms, with a seventh stabling track in place.
In 2007 major refurbishment of the original station building took place and there are now shops as well as connecting walkways to the adjacent ferry station.
SANTOS (0.9km) The former dockland area to the left of the line has now largely been reborn as a strip of discotheques and fashionable nightclubs, restaurants and bars. To the right is a pleasant small garden; the train then passes the Aterro district then, across the road to the right, between Santos and the next station, Alcântara, at the top of a flight of stairs, is the Museu de Arte Antiga, (Lisbon's Museum of Ancient Art). Tram service 15 runs parallel and adjacent to the railway on reserved track along this stretch.
L to R: a Cascais-bound train approaches Alcântara; the eastbound platform of Alcântara-Mar station; a diesel loco uses the street-side track heading from Alcântara-Mar to Alcântara-Terra in 2010.
ALCÂNTARA-MAR (2.6km) An elevated walk-way connects this station to the CP terminal station of Alcântara-Terra. To the left are part of the city's extensive passenger and cargo docks. Nearby, to the right, is the Necessidades Palace and the Carris tram sheds, museum and offices at Santo Amaro, (not to be confused with Santo Amaro [de Oeiras], a stop further along this railway line).
Across the River Tagus, to the left, lay the now defunct Lisnave dry-dock and shipyards. 1km beyond there was formerly a halt called Junqueira. The line passes directly under the massive Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge which has railtracks laid on its lower level, beneath the roadway. This railway link opened in 1999, and provides direct double-decker train links from Lisbon to Setúbal without the need to cross by ferry to Barreiro station. On the right, inland on the Avenida da Índia is the bright yellow, 394 metre-long and single-storey eighteenth-century Cordoaria Velha (the royal rope factory, created in 1771 and crucial in supplying the country's maritime fleets). This is now an exhibition area.
An early view of Algés station; the yellow frontage of the Cordoaria (rope works); the line runs past the monument to the Discoveries at Belém, where the track runs on reserved track with roadways on both sides.
BELÉM (4.8km) Alight here for the Museu de Electricidade (Electricity Museum), housed in the former power station (1919) to the left, and the Museu dos Coches (Horse-Drawn Coaches Museum) and the pink-plastered Palace of the President of Portugal, to the right, which was formerly a royal palace.
A short way forward from the station, to the right, is the celebrated Jerónimos monastery, built in the early sixteenth century in the Manueline style. This used to be served by a halt called Bom Sucesso (7km), named after the adjacent dock of the same title. In front of the monastery is the Praça do Império, with its formal gardens and Fonte Monumental (fountain).
On the left by the river-edge is the striking Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument to the Portuguese Discoveries in the form of a stylised ship's prow, which pays homage to the Portuguese Voyages of Discovery of the late fifteenth-century and later, many of which actually set sail from Belém. An internal lift allows visitors to ascend to the top of the monument for fine views of the Belém area.
Adjacent to the Jerónimos is the Museu de Marinha (Maritime Museum), which has a large collection of model and real boats, as well as the Fairey sea-plane used for the first crossing from Portugal to Brazil. Behind the monastery are the floodlights of the Restelo Stadium, home of the Belenenses football club.
Nearer to the track, on the right, is the massive Centro Cultural de Belém, the location for arts and other cultural events. It has a pleasant rooftop café. Opposite it, on the left, is the Museu de Arte Popular. After Belém, just before the line curves right past the site of the former station of Pedrouços station (6.8km), there is a fine view, to the left of the Torre de Belém. which, before the 1755 earthquake stood in the river proper.
ALGÉS (7.8km) There is a major bus interchange adjacent to the station, on the right, behind which runs the tram route 15. To the left on the approach to the station a school has recently been replaced by a new road and roudabout. Algés is a major commuting area for Lisbon workers. Leaving Algés, on the right may be seen the yellow Aquário Vasco da Gama, (aquarium), at Dafundo. This was built in 1898 to mark the 400th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's celebrated voyage to the 'Indies'. On the other side of the tracks a new "Espaço de Lazer" (leisure centre) has been built. There used to be a station at Dafundo (9km) but this and a large part of its former grounds were taken away when the Marginal coast road was built. After crossing the River Jamor, inland can be seen the floodlights of the refurbished Estádio Nacional, scene of Glasgow Celtic's 1967 European Cup triumph. The train now enters...
CRUZ QUEBRADA (9.7km). This was formerly the western terminus of Carris tram service 15. An unprepossessing beach can be seen on the left. The line here runs right along the river edge and curves around a lighthouse, sited inland from the railway, before a gentle gradient brings the train to
CAXIAS (11.7km). As the train enters the station, an old railway carriage, now a bar, is to be seen on the right. The small
beach is near to the refurbished Forte S. Bruno, which was originally built c.1660 by the Conde de Cantanhede (1596-1675) after the 1640 Restoration of Portugal's independence from Spain. Inland, Caxias gaol was a notorious
prison during the Salazar period of government. It was near here in August 1958 that a cliff fall on the landward side struck a train, with many fatalities.
PAÇO DE ARCOS (13.2km)
Right: Paço de Arcos station c.1940
The line now runs inland with the river no longer visible. Paço de Arcos is named after the Palace of Arches whose origins are late fifteenth century. In the late 19th century the town had a popular beach. In summer 2003 the area to the right of the station was redeveloped and the SATUO monorail installed to link the town to Oeiras (Parque). This has its blue terminal station, called "Navegantes", within yards of the Cascais end of the Lisbon-bound platform.
As the Cascais Line leaves the station, it crosses a small viaduct and the line runs past blocks of flats and the bustling fire station below. A modern sculpture, possibly a stylised Barcelos cockerel (a folkloric symbol), has been erected near some new flats on the right between here and Santo Amaro. After a brief break in the housing on the right, the train now reaches
SANTO AMARO (DE OEIRAS) (15.5km). This stop should not be confused with Santo Amaro, the area beneath the Ponte 25 de Abril, near
Alcântara. The Estoril lines then cross an 87m steel viaduct over a small river
(Rio Lage) before entering the station. On the right-hand side deep below the railway line is an incongruously sited yellow Lisbon bogie tram, placed as a park exhibit.
Many stopping services from Cais do Sodré terminate here. The large buildings on the left are the former Oeiras Foundry, with its railway inspired ceramic mural, and the Estoril line railway shed and works. Virtually all
of the Line's stock was once stabled here, having previously been at Cais do Sodré. The Line's refurbished, air-conditioned rolling stock made its first test appearance here in 1998 but was not introduced into service, and even then on a small scale, till 17 July, 1999.
The through trains to/from Cascais use the outer sides of the two platforms, whilst the terminating services use the middle track. Oeiras Town Council has a web-site detailing the town's attractions, which include the home of the 18th-century Marquis of Pombal, who rebuilt Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake. This lies about 10 minutes walk away, to the north of the station.
CARCAVELOS (17.8km) On the approach to the station, at a raised level on the left, are the current sidings of the Cascais Line railway opened c.2000. To the left is the road to the beach, about five minutes away. Here was sited a Transatlantic communications cable, opened in 1872. This had 3 cables to Falmouth, 2 to Gibraltar, 2 to Brazil and 1 to the Azores. To the right of the recently rebuilt station are shops, a cinema and cafés. To the left is the newly constructed bus station, which opened in Spring, 2000, replacing the bus terminus on the other side of the station. Further information on the town is on the Carcavelos local council's web-page.
L to R: Period postcard views of Carcavelos and Parede stations; a refurbished unit at Cais do Sodré, July, 2000.
PAREDE (19.5km) Parede was developed in the nineteenth century, on agricultural land, by Almirante José Nunes da Mata, (admiral and writer, 1849-1945) and the town has a park named after him. In 1904 a large sanatorium (Sanatório de Sant'Anna) was opened here by the wife of the capitalist Frederico Biester. Like Carcavelos, the station has been rebuilt in recent years. The British Council has premises beside the line on the left beyond the station.
Although the property here is generally up-market, there was a small shanty-settlement on the right as the train nears S. Pedro but in summer 2004 this was replaced by a low-cost apartment block. On the left is the historic Colónia Balnear Infantil 'O Século', a large building established to provided seaside facilities for children. There is a modest beach a short walk from the station.
SÃO PEDRO (DO ESTORIL) (21km) Apartment blocks herald arrival at S. Pedro. Some services terminate here at peak times. As at Oeiras, transfer to through stations is achieved by simply walking across the platform (1P1P1). Formerly, during the day, two units were often stabled on the centre track but in summer 2010 the whole station was remodelled. The sea can be seen across the Marginal road, on the left-hand side of the track. The town was known as Cae Água until well into the twentieth century and it has a reasonable beach. The town's development owes much to the retail magnate, Nunes dos Santos, who founded the Grandes Armazéns do Chiado, a fashionable department store in Lisbon. Leaving the station, a small bus station can be seen for Scott URB Portugal services (to the right).
SÃO JOÃO (DO ESTORIL) (22.5km) Like many of the stations, S. João has adjacent cafes and bars, including for many years the interestingly named 'Tony Sandwich Bar'. There are two beaches here; the Praia da Poça and the Praia de Azarujinha. After passing through a cutting, the train rejoins the coast at
L to R: A ceramic representation of a steam train crossing the Oeiras viaduct is to be found at the eastern end of Oeiras station; a train bound for Lisbon departs Estoril station (July 2003); an EMU waits at Cascais
station, (April 24, 1999)..
Formerly the Sud-Expres from Paris served this station in a town famous as
the home of deposed European royalty. The beach lies to the left of the station; the ScottURB (ex-Stagecoach) bus terminal and kiosk is immediately to the right. Beyond it lies the famous Casino which is reached past a semi-circular arcade on the left which houses several good-value open-air restaurants amongst which the best is probably the Yate (Yacht). Its open-air tables also provide a good point for observing local bus services, which also stop outisde the station itself. For further information,
see the Sintra Transport page and the Lisbon Suburban Buses page.
MONTE ESTORIL (24.3km) A number of hotels lie near the station, including the Grande, and the Aparthotel Eden. However, the Atlântico (next to the railway line) now (2007) appears to be under major renovation. The town became an international health resort at the turn of the century and even the Queen of Portugal (D. Maria Pia) had a 'chalet' here. In the early twentieth century the beach here was still sandy but is now rocky. Its peace has been ruined by a single very loud disco which operates at all hours.
The line runs along the Atlantic coastline between the Atlântico hotel (which underwent a major refurbishment in 2007), and the Ocean, before passing the former site of the massive Estoril-Sol hotel (demolished in summer 2007) on the land side and the excellent Jumbo hypermarket, as it enters the terminal at Cascais.
CASCAIS (25.4km) The line terminates on the edge of this still-active fishing port, although tourism now dominates the economy. The bus station has recently been installed under the new Vila shopping complex, across the road (to the right) from the station which has fine view from its top floor café/balcony. The main bus operator is ScottURB. Just a few yards further back towards Lisbon is the excellent Jumbo hypermarket. On the other (west) side of the small town is the excellent Castro Guimarães museum, a stately home. Cascais also has many restaurants, hotels and a bullring. Nearby is the out-of-town Cascaishopping centre and a motor-racing track, both of which lie on local bus routes. The town's charter goes back to 1364 and in 1964 it gained the status of a cidade. Local fishing boats operate from the Praia da Rainha, whilst the Duquesa, Rainha and Conceição beaches are less disturbed for sunbathers. For further information on the town, Cascais town council operates a web-site in Portuguese.
Automated ticketing is available at all stations. The tickets are the Viva Viagem style but bear the prefix CP (for Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses) rather than the ML prefix found on Lisboa metro and Carris tickets. There is no discount on return tickets. Ticket inspectors still check passengers' tickets on the trains.
Sadly, much of the rolling stock and virtually all of the stations on the Cascais Line are defaced by graffiti. Also a number of carriages bear all-over advertising. Above we see a defaced train entering Cascais station, 2012, with the second carriage carrying all-over advertising.
Extensively reconditioned rolling stock was introduced from July 1998. This comprised 34 revamped units by the year 2002. These are made up of 21 four-car sets and 13 three-car sets. These vehicles have smoked windows, interior stop indicators, air-conditioning and soundproofing. Only the bogies and the body-sides remain from the original vehicles. The new front ends and ungainly roof-mounted air-conditioning units do not enhance the appearance of the trains, but for the passenger the above-mentioned benefits, together with the smoother ride resulting from 'chopper' control, do constitute significant advances. The cost of this modernisation was ten billion escudos. A few units carry all-over advertising.