The Lisbon Metro- Metropolitano de Lisboa and the Metro Sul do Tejo
Above: São Sebastião Red Line station, 2010
Below: Saldanha station, 2009.
Compiled by John Laidlar
The following text describes, firstly, the Lisbon underground city metro system, then the metro system opposite Lisbon on the south bank of the Tagus (to which a separate page is dedicated here) and, finally, a proposed light Metro system which will encircle Lisbon.
The Metro system runs (2012) on a network comprising four lines. These have a confusing array of names being described on Metro signage as Blue, Yellow, Green and Red, or Gaivota (Seagull line), Caravela (Caravel line), Girassol (Sunflower line), and Oriente (East line) respectively, whilst the operating company's literature and web-site also refers to them sometimes as lines A (blue), B (yellow), C (green) and D (red). The Metropolitano de Lisboa's own Web Page provides an updated map of the system.
Indeed, rather than extend the network further, it was decided to address the problem that all of the stations, except for those built for the 1972 extension project and those at Rossio, Rotunda, Entre Campos and Sete Rios, were only 40 metres long so could only accommodate two-car train sets. When four-car units were introduced, trains either stopped with two carriages still in the tunnel or ran as expresses and made stops only at the four-car-length stations. It took until 1982 to extend all of the 40 metre stations to 105 metres, which allowed for six car-sets to serve them but the stations with 70-metre platforms were left unextended at this stage.
Following this work, the emphasis returned to expanding the network. The western branch was extended from Sete Rios to Colégio Militar/Luz and the eastern line to Cidade Universitária from Entercampos, all of the new stations having 105 metre platforms, which opened in 1988. Next, the two arms of the system were joined by each being extended to Campo Grande (1993) which is an above-ground station with four lines. At this stage each line terminated there, without any through running. A new Metro depot was also provided, nearby, at Calvanas.
What was, crudely, a figure-six shape was then split into a U-shape by the line between Rotunda and Campo Grande being separated and becoming the Yellow Line; the rest of the network thus became a U-shape Blue Line, running south from Campo Grande via the city centre and back up north to Colégio Militar/Luz. This separation took place in 1995 and that year the Rotunda platforms were extended to 105m length as were those at Sete Rios.
Left: The Red Line at São Sebastião, opened in 2009.
In 1997 both the Blue and Yellow lines were extended; the latter by one stop from Rotunda to Rato; the former from Colégio Militar/Luz northwards to Pontinha, where a new depot opened to replace the original one at sete Rios, which is now the site of Lisbon's main coach station. Sadly, that year, on 19 October 1997, a fire at Alameda station killed two people at a time when it was closed to the public for works associated with Red Line development. One of the fatalities was of a Metro worker at Areeiro who was overcome by fumes which came up the tunnel.
Major changes occurred in 1998 when the impressive Baixa-Chiado station was opened. This has an entrance in the city centre (Baixa) as well as one at a much higher level in the Chiado district, linked by a series of escalators. As a consequence of this, a Green Line was created, being the former section of the Blue Line running from Campo Grande via Alvalde, Rossio and Baixa-Chiado to its new terminus at Cais do Sodré, adjacent to the Cascais Line railway of CP, the tram route (15) and the ferry terminal.
Meanwhile, Lisbon was preparing to be the location of Expo 98 so a new Red Line was constructed to the Expo site at Oriente in the north east of the city. This started from the Green Line at Alameda. Oriente was also provided with a magnificent new CP main line station linked to the Metro by escalators, lifts and stairs. It was in May, 1998 that the Oriente line was inaugurated, though some of the intermediate stations opened later than the terminal station, e.g. Cabo Ruivo (opened July 1998), Olivais (November 1998).
Since then, further extensions have been opened, with the Telheiras extension from Campo Grande on 1 November 2002 followed in March 2004 by the Yellow line, which was doubled in length to Odivelas from Campo Grande. Next, in May 2004, Amadora Este became the terminus of the Blue Line, beyond Pontinha. An extension to the airport opened in 2012.
The remaining Green Line stations (except Areeiro and Arroios) have been extended from 70m to 105m to allow six-car operation. Finally in December 2007 the long delayed extension of the Blue Line via Terreiro do Paço to Santa Apolónia main-line station was inaugurated. Plans exist to extend the Red Line further west to Campolide. An extension from Amadora Este on the Blue Line to link with the CP Sintra Line at Reboleira was envisaged with 2011 as a target date for completion, a goal only met several years later. Three new stations were also projected at Atalaia, Amadora-Centro e Hospital Amadora-Sintra, an extension of 2,5 km, costing some €240 millions but this has not materialised. Other major extensions are planned, not least an extension of the Yellow Line to link with the Cascais railway line at Alcântara.
Nevertheless, a significant number of new stations have been created in recent years, with the river-front link from Baixa Chiado via Terreiro do Paço to the mainline Santa Apolónia station opening on 19 December 2007, more than five years late due to tunnelling problems at the waterfront caused by water ingress. This extension provides a rapid connection, via a change at Baixa-Chiado, between the Cascais railway line and the bustling Praça do Comércio.
After years of the waterfront being scarred by the protracted works on the Terreiro do Paço underground station, the area was further blighted (c2009) as the Pç. Comércio was dug up for works on an old sewer and to underpin the eastern tower by the waterfront, which had settled over the years. Although Pç. Comércio itself has now been largely (but not completely - 2016) tidied up, the route between there and Cais do Sodré, to the west, was also affected by major work to upgrade the waterfront at Ribeira das Naus (2012). And to the east, the closure of the iconic Sul e Sueste ferry terminal has left something of an eyesore in the form of the redundant building.
Further extensions have seen the lengthening, to the west, of the Red Line from Alameda via Saldanha to São Sebastião, which opened on 29 August 2009 and this provides interchanges with the Yellow and Blue Lines respectively. It is therefore now possible to travel to Oriente from north-west Lisbon without having to journey via the city centre. An extension at the other end of the Red Line via Moscavide reached Lisbon airport in July 2012.
As of 2013 the Metro website listed the following planned developments:
A new shopping centre, called Vasco da Gama, opened at Oriente too, whilst four of the Expo pavilions, including the oceanarium remain. Intermediate stations are at Olaias, Bela Vista, Chelas, Olivais, and Cabo Ruivo, the last-named of which opened in summer 1998. Cabo Ruivo is the only unadorned station on the line; the other stations having striking artistic finishes and being built on a larger scale than earlier metro stations, more as a statement to the world then because they are heavily used.
For a map of the proposed extensions visit UrbanRail.net.
Visitors should also note that the nearest station to Rossio CP railway station is Restauradores which has a subway link to the CP station. The Rossio Metro station is further away, albeit only five minutes' walk, above ground.
Baixa-Chiado is a very frustrating station to use as whichever end of the platform you exit, you have to retrace your steps at a higher level to the middle to exit the station. The moral is either to get on at the front or back of the train or to use the centrally located platform lift, which avoids this problem but it is inadequate for the crowds using the station.
Tram and bus services also run in the opposite direction to the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon's city centre. A significant bus station is also sited outside the front of the Cais do Sodré railway station, with an adjacent iconic Carris kiosk. In summer 2007 the main railway station section of the Cais do Sodré complex was gutted for refurbishment and is now largely an irrelevance for transport purposes. Shops now occupy some of the space.
The original stock was supplemented from 1982 onwards by Sorefame-built units M101 to M156. Until 1999 eighty of the original ML7 cars remained in service in a fleet of 361, but the ML7s were all withdrawn by 28 January, 2000. All stock was then turned out in silver with red ends and light blue doors.
Newer ML90 cars were delivered from March 1993 and reached a total of 57 (19 x 3-car units, distinguished by a door at the front) by 1996. In 1997, 42 ML95 cars were delivered giving a total of 235 cars in service at that time, compared with 142 in 1993. In 1998 new articulated stock was acquired from Siemens-Sorefame. This looks fairly similar to the 1982 stock but has concertina connections between the three cars in each unit and plug doors rather than sliding doors. Cars normally run as two coupled units (i.e. six carriages). These units allow ready access to the full length of the train and also greatly improve security on lightly loaded trains, although these are something of a rarity in Lisbon. In summer 2000, rolling stock carried a red, blue, yellow and green logo to commemorate the Metro's fortieth anniversary of operation but this has since been removed. In 2007, 338 carriages were in service, all of them being in the ML90+ series which was introduced in 1993.
I am grateful to Owen Brison for the following detail: "The 1990s stock, which have plug doors rather than the sliding doors of all the earlier stock, are numbered from 201 upwards but not all consecutively. The motor cars are M201, M203, M204, M206, M207, M209, etc. The trailer cars are R202, R205, R208, where R stands for "reboque", (i.e., towed). Of these, 201 - 206 represent the first two prototype trains while 207 upwards are the production cars with some interior differences. The prototypes (still in service) have end doors out of the driver's cab; the later cars don't. The two prototype trains are: M201 + R202 + M203 and M204 + R205 + M206. The first production train is: M207 + R208 + M209 and so on. but stopping in the 2xx series. Then the numbering is M301 + R302 + M303 up into the 400s. None of the above cars have concertina walkways. Tha trains without the concertina walkways can be, and indeed are, split into 2-car sets, as trains on the Green line are made up of one or two 2-car sets. The Green line still has two stations, Areeiro and Arroios, which can only take four-car trains.
M501 + R502 + M503,. etc are the first trains with the concertina walkways, folowed by M601 + R602 + M603, etc going up into the 700s. These also have concertina walkways but seats cantilevered from the carriage walls rather than supported by columns at the outer edges. The plug door series all look very similar except for the concertinas... For the exact fleet numbers visit the Metro site's page on Material Circulante.
In 2012 the Metro's rolling stock comprised:
Metro services operate from 0600 to 0100. The easiest way to use the Metro is to purchase a Viva Viagem (or Sete Colinas) electronic ticket (akin to London's Oyster card) costing 0.50 Euros (2012) which can be charged up with monetary value using the machines at every station. Although the Metropolitano de Lisboa is separate from the Lisbon bus and tram operator Carris, the Sete Colinas card is usable on bus and tram services as well as the Metro. A day-ticket covering all Lisbon metro, bus, tram and funicular services costs six Euros in 2016 (it was only 3.70 in 2010) and this can be loaded onto your electronic pass. For more on ticketing see the Carris page.
Left: Metro ticket as used in 2002.
The most memorable central station is, perhaps, Campo Pequeno, with its larger than life human figures, whilst the literary themes of Cidade Universitária, the Lewis Carroll "White Rabbit" tiles at Cais do Sodré the cut-out figures at Marquês de Pombal and the tiled oranges at Laranjeiras are also impressive. A personal favourite is Martim Moniz with its stylised representations of Martim Moniz and of other knights involved in the siege of Lisbon in 1147, as a result of which the city was freed from its Moorish occupiers. The original stations on the Oriente line are much taller and are decorated in striking colours. The newest stations at Terreiro do Paço and Santa Apolónia, and the Red Line extensions at Saldanha and S. Sebastião, are relatively unadorned.
Above: The Metro Sul do Tejo line viaduct near Pragal, where it crosses under the Fertagus cross-Tagus line, in June 2005. The viaduct takes the Metro line over the autoestrada (motorway) which runs south from the Tagus bridge.
A separate webpage has now been established for this new (2007) metro system on the south bank of the Tagus, click here.
The inner ring will link Metro and railway routes by connecting Falagueira, shortly to be added to the Metro network, to the Lisbon railway terminal of Santa Apolónia, a distance of 11.5km, costing 211.6 million euros. There will also be a connection between Alcântara, to the west of Lisbon, with Gare do Oriente, the station opened for the Expo 98 event, to the north east of the city. This comprises 15.4km which will cost 283.4 million euros.
No firm timescales have been announced for the above projects by the Ministry of Public Works, which is hoping for a public-private partnership to achieve these goals. The Metropolitano de Lisboa and Carris companies will be involved as will be the respective local councils in the areas concerned.