Fertagus: Travessia do Tejo, Transportes S.A:
Although the 25th April bridge was opened on 6 August, 1966 as a road link, it had provision from its inception for a rail deck at a lower level. This rail facility was not actually made usable until 1999 when Fertagus started cross-river services. The conversion work on the rail-deck of the bridge had started in 1996 and cost 150,000,000,000 escudos (over £450M). 700 men were employed both to prepare the train deck and to widen the road deck. 20,000 tonnes of steel were required and 85,000 cubic metres of concrete were used for these works.
Work on the south bank included a 280 metre tunnel near Pragal and a 124 metre tunnel at Feijó. A number of concrete viaducts were also constructed, the most notable being the 1,485 metre long viaduct at Corroios.
Left: Fertagus service at Pragal.
Fertagus's EMU sets are stabled at Coina and the line was extended beyond there in 2003. The train interiors are attractively designed with blue patterned seats and other features include air conditioning, smoked windows and digital displays of ambient temperatures. In summer 2000 Fertagus was reported to have ordered some five-car sets to deal with the increased traffic resulting from extension of the line but these did not materialise and the 18 sets now have to operate the extended network which limits services, especially to Setúbal.
Until September 2003, the Lisbon terminus of Fertagus was at Entrecampos but it has since moved slightly further east to Roma/Areeiro, which is a transformed and enlarged version of the former small CP (Portuguese Railways) station at Areeiro. The Fertagus south-bank services were extended in October 2004 via Palmela as far as Setúbal (54km, journey time 57 mins), but the primary commuter service is to Coina, some 27km from Roma/Areeiro station in Lisbon across the bridge.
The long-awaited CP Lisbon to Faro service started on 24 July 2003 initially using diesel traction. The Algarve link involved the redevelopment of Pinhal Novo as a junction with the existing CP lines from Barreiro to southern Portugal. A new rail bridge linking Chelas to a point just east of Barreiro has also been mooted but not materialised. If built, this would mean that Pinhal Novo would become a major junction with the Fertagus line reaching it from the west and the new-bridge line joining it from the north.
Although there has long been a sizeable traffic in commuters from the 'Outra Banda', the south bank of the Tagus, into Lisbon, the Fertagus line is stimulating further such traffic by prompting more residential and commercial development on the south side of the river. Most of the new Fertagus stations have been characterised by adjacent shopping centres of varying sizes and large car parks for commuters.
As of 12 August 2008, Fertagus introduced ticketing with the 7 Colinas and the Viva Viagem cards to replace the single/return/10-trip tickets.
The first Fogueteiro-Entrecampos service ran on 30 July 1999 and, by the first anniversary, the line had carried sixteen million passengers. By July 2000 loads were approximately 50,000 people per day and in 2005 were c70,000. Surveys have shown that the Fertagus route is impacting more on the ferry services than on the road bridge with the majority of passengers using period-passes, rather than individually purchased tickets. Connecting bus services are run by Sul-Fertagus and TST from all of the southern stations but seem little used outside working hours. However, by May 2001 Fertagus admitted that it had carried only 57.5% (11.5 million) of its forecast number of passengers and recorded a loss of 7 million Euros on a turnover of 11.5 Euros.
For further information on the 25th April bridge, see theLisbon Bridges page of this site.
Above, left: Roma-Areeiro station with a Fertagus service awaiting departure. Right: Aerial view of Roma-Areeiro shpowing the walkway towards the Metro connection. The platforms of the former Apeadeiro Areeiro railway halt were a little further towards the top of the image from the current Roma-Areeiro station platforms before being remodelled. Roma Metro station is towards the bottom of the image, left of centre.
ROMA - AREEIRO Roma-Areeiro became the new Lisbon terminus for Fertagus services c2004. The station itself is a modern enlargement of the formerly small station called Areeiro. By building a long walkway (with moving walkways), with an entrance on the Avenida de Roma (less than five minutes walk, above ground, from Roma Metro station), the new facility can claim to serve both Roma and Areeiro as it is also about a five minute walk from Areeiro Metro station. The modern station now has four tracks (P2P2) and continues to operate as a station on the Sintra line as well. The train runs along a shallow cutting through unremarkable urban scenery for the short distance from Roma/Areeiro to the original starting point of Fertagus services at Entrecampos.
To the right can be seen the compact Tapadinha athletics stadium before the train moves on to the Ponte 25 de Abril. There are magnificent views left towards Lisbon, with the Carris tram depot immediately below the line, and up the Tagus towards the Ribatejo, whilst to the right can be seen the 16th-century Torre de Belém and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) at the river edge. Photography from the train is difficult, however, because the train deck is partly enclosed by girders along its full length. As the train approaches the south bank, good views of the tall Cristo-Rei (Christ the King) monument at Almada can be seen to the left, before the train enters a short tunnel which goes under the toll booths of the road level of the bridge. Just before arriving at Pragal the new Metro do Sul do Tejo tracks cross beneath the Fertagus tracks.
PRAGAL (P2P2P) Seven minutes from Campolide, and only a short distance across the river, is the station of Pragal, which is also used by one or two CP services to Oporto. The station, built for the line's opening, is decorated by modern ceramic designs.
The station lies next to the IC20 road on the left and has a car-park for 1800 vehicles. Adjacent is a 'Galeria Comercial', or shopping precinct, of 40 shops and bus stops for connecting services operated by Sul-Fertagus and TST. Amongst the bus services are ones to the beaches of the Caparica area. To the left can be seen, in the distance, the Margueira ship-repair yards of Lisnave, near Cacilhas. The line runs along a concrete viaduct out of Pragal and loops east over the IC20 then under the busy A2 motorway before running alongside this same road, on its left-hand side. Pictured, left, is a north-bound platform.
There is a pleasant café just outside the southbound side of the station called the Verde-Amarelo, from whose terrace the trains can be watched as they loop away from Pragal on a viaduct. To the right the Metro do Sul do Tejo line heads to the right on a viaduct.
From 1 May 2007 an added link came in to service when the Metro do Sul do Tejo opened. This nowadays provides tram services to Cacilhas, Almada and the University at Caparica but, by the summer 2007, it had reached only as far as Cova da Piedade. Beyond the station on the left are various small-scale industrial plants including a cork processing works and a Toyota facility. Another large car-park on the left and the Seixal stadium, preface the train's arrival at Foros de Amora, just three minutes after leaving Corroios. Behind lie the Tagus bridge and Cristo Rei statue on the left.
Left: Old style Fertagus ticket from pre-Euro days in Portugal.
FOGUETEIRO (1P1P1) After leaving Foros de Amora, the line diverges from the A2 motorway as the track veers left. After two minutes, Fogueteiro station is reached. This was the terminus until 2004. The station itself is spacious, with a striking wavy roof and includes a café, news-stand and toilet facilities. There is also a Fertagus information desk. Across the road from the station are some steps to a commercial centre which includes a café overlooking the attractive station. After leaving Fogueteiro, via a small cutting, the train sweeps left, past a Sagres beer depot and semi-industrial landscape. On the left are the Fertagus sheds and sidings as the train nears Coina.
After passing a huge waste tip on the left, the beautifully tiled old station building comes into sight on the left. It has survived at the north west end of the otherwise rebuilt and enlarged, modern station at Pinhal Novo. On leaving ,the 2 Fertagus lines go right as 4 CP tracks go left.
Setúbal station is about ten minutes walk from the town centre, which is reached by turning left out of the attractive station building and walking parallel to the railway line which carries on to the small halt at Praça do Quebedo (used by CP services only). Turn right at the underpass at Pç. Quebedo and walk 200 yards or so, passing the bus station on the right. A short distance beyond, turn left at the sign for the Praça Bocage (above), the attractive, pedestrianised main square of the city with its cafés, historic church and statue of the poet Bocage.
Walk on through the square for less than five minutes and you will reach the River Sado and the ferryboat terminus for boats to the beaches of the Tróia peninsula. A passenger service is operated by catamaran whilst the main car-ferry port is a few hundred yards to the left.