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The Sintra Line of Portuguese Railways (CP):
Linha de Sintra. Part One.

A Sintra Line timetable booklet

17 February 2008 partly updated

Copyright: ©
Compiled by John Laidlar

The Line

The Linha de Sintra is the name applied by CP- Portuguese Trains to the services run by its UGSL division from Lisbon to Sintra, 28km away to the north-west. The Sintra Line provides an attractive excursion from Lisbon for a number of reasons:
  • Its destination is the royal town of Sintra, with its two palaces, one in the town and the other, with a Moorish castle, perched high on a hilltop above.
  • It is a paragon of efficient operation and tight timetabling of frequent trains which run for virtually 24 hours a day.
  • It is cheap.

    Part One of these Pages covers the services to Sintra from Lisbon. The main service traditionally ran from Rossio Station in central Lisbon but, during 2004, the tunnel which carries all lines out of that station had to be closed due to structural problems; but after many delays it was reopened by the Prime Minister on 16 February 2008. Sintra services resume running from Rossio from that date but Mira Sintra and Meleças services run from Roma - Areeiro, the new (2004), expanded four-track station created out of the formerly under-used Areeiro station in north Lisbon.

    Part Two covers the services from Entrecampos-Poente and Oriente stations, including the former Alverca to Queluz-Massamá services, as well as providing information on rolling stock and ticketing.

    The Services

    The line between Sintra and Cacém was opened on 2 April 1887 and extended to the Lisbon suburb of Campolide by 1891.

    Services on the Sintra Line are currently (during the Rossio closure) via three routes:

  • From Roma-Areeiro to Sintra (41 mins).
  • From Entrecampos Poente station to Meleças which is about 7km outside the town and actually lies just off the main Sintra Line (27 mins).
  • From Alverca, north east of Lisbon, to Meleças via Roma/Areeiro (58 mins).
  • NB All of the above routes run through stations from Sete Rios (North West Lisbon, adjacent to the Jardim Zoológico Metro station) onwards to Sintra.

    Services run virtually all day and night; from around 0500 hours to 0200. They are operated by the Unidade de Suburbanos de Grande Lisboa- USGL, a division of the national railway company CP, at whose Web Site, timetables may be found.

    The Lisbon Terminals

    Estação do Rossio (Rossio Station)

    NB Rossio Station is closed till summer 2006 - see above

    Rossio CP station, not to be confused with the Metro station of the same name, is centrally situated, just to the NW of Rossio square, towards Restauradores, in the heart of Lisbon. The platforms are reached by a series of escalators from the front entrance. A new connecting walk way to the Metro has been opened but it should be noted that the Metro station to which it connects is NOT Rossio Metro station but Restauradores. See the Luso Pages Metro Page for further information on the Metro system and the Lisbon RailwaysPage for more details on Rossio station. The underground walkway between Rossio CP and Restauradores incorporates a striking tiled mural of Ulysses near the Rossio end and also boasts its own café. The outside of Rossio station is well worth a close inspection. Its neo-Manueline style incorporates pseudo-Moorish arches and a statue of the 16th-century king, Sebastião.

    Left to right: Rossio Station; Entrecampos Station; a CP EMU and a Fertagus double-decker wait at Entrecampos, 1999.

    Roma - Areeiro

    The plaza outside Roma-Areeiro station, whose entrance is on the far left of the photo.

    This station was created in 2004 out of the former Areeiro station. Onto the former unexceptional station has been grafted a long covered walkway which, apart from a column outside the frontage, bears no sign of its being a railway station. In style it is akin to the new structures at Sete Rios and Entrecampos and shares with them this lack of external signage. The Roma-Areeiro station is also poorly signed from the Metro. From Areeiro Metro it is also a five minute walk or so. The new station has four tracks and also now serves as the Lisbon terminus for Fertagus cross-Tagus services to Coina and Setúbal.

    Estação de Entrecampos-Poente (Entrecampos West Station)

    The Entrecampos station complex has five different names! The Metro system station, to which the CP railway station is connected by a lengthy walk-way, was traditionally styled Entre Campos (two words); the CP (Portuguese Railways) call the complex variously Entrecampos and Entrecampos Poente (Entrecampos West), or (until recently) Rego, or Avenida 5 de Outubro. The name Entrecampos itself refers to its location between Campo Grande and Campo Pequeno, two formerly open areas of the city. The multiplicity of CP names arises from the fact that the station has been rebuilt and extended. Entrecampos-Poente refers to the island platform, about 200 metres west of the main station, from which services to Meleças run at frequent intervals.

    The main station of Entrecampos houses the Azambuja Line services and was the original terminus for the Fertagus cross-Tagus double-decker EMU services, which began in July, 1999 but this rolw is now asigned to Roma-Areeiro. Rego and Terminal Avenida 5 de Outubro were names of stops just west of the original Entrecampos station, which have now effectively merged with it, to become what CP now most commonly calls Entrecampos-Poente. The station is still less than perfectly signposted internally with various levels which can make it confusing.

    Entrecampos-Poente comprises a new island platform, with a passing track on the north side. To the south of the track serving the southern side of this platform are six tracks which run into Entrecampos station proper.

    In the covered Entrecampos station itself, four tracks are used for the Azambuja services, including services which run to Alcântara-Terra, which is just a short walk from the Cascais Line, and also operated by USGL. Occasional through-running freight trains and locomotives also can be seen at Entrecampos heading for the docks. The booking office is on a lower level from the platforms but self-service ticket machines have also been installed.

    Lisboa Oriente (Lisbon East Station)

    This architecturally impressive station, to the north of Lisbon, served the Expo 98 site but is now an important railway station in its own right as it is more easily reached than the more central Santa Apolónia, Lisbon's terminal station. Oriente is linked by a fairly lengthy and confusingly signed walk through the station shops to Oriente Metro station on the Red Line to Alameda. Essentially the station platforms are at the highest level, with the book offices (which are many and not clearly signed as to function) are on the level below. Further down is the Metro station. There is also a major bus station at the rear of the railway station. Services from Alverca on the Sintra Line mostly terminate at the newly named station of Monte Abraão (formerly Queluz-Massamá) or at Meleças. The line from Oriente passes through Entrecampos, where the trains stop in the main station rather than Entrecampos-Poente. See Part Two of this page for details of this service.

    The Route

    1: The Rossio Services

    The route from Rossio to Sintra serves fifteen stations. All Rossio and Entrecampos-Poente services are provided by ADtranz class 2300 and 2400 EMUs of eight cars (two four-car units coupled together). The Alverca service is operated by class 3500 double-deck EMU stock, much of which is now looking rather shabby on the exterior.

  • ROSSIO (0km)
    This recently refurbished 19th-century station (reopened in February 2008 after major tunnel repairs) now comprises five wide platforms laid out in fake but attractive street cobbles; the side walls are attractively tiled. The ends of the platforms lead immediately into the 3km tunnel which emerges with sidings on the right side, just before Campolide station. The tunnel passes under the Lisbon districts of the Bairro Alto, Rato and Amoreiras. As the train emerges from the tunnel near the Avenida Calouste Gulbenkian, sidings can be seen which house EMUs (2300, 2400 and 3500 classes) and the odd CP loco.

    L to R: Campolide station, seen from the air, 1 July 1999. The white roof is the station with, to the left, the Lisbon aqueduct as it crosses the Alcântara valley; Platform signs at Oriente, 1999; Campolide, with the aqueduct in the background.

  • CAMPOLIDE (4km) Whilst Rossio was closed (till February 2008), Campolide was not served by the Sintra Line.

    As the train enters the station, a short stretch of the 18th-century Águas Livres viaduct is visible to the left, whilst sidings are on the right. Campolide station was only reopened in June 1999 after remodelling and rebuilding connected with the new cross-Tagus services which operates through the western side of the station. The CP station comprises two platforms (P2P1= Platform, 2 Tracks, Platform 1 Track). As the train leaves the station, it is joined from the south-west by the line from Alcântara-Terra and turns to the left; its two lines soon become four as the line from Entrecampos and Oriente joins. Just before this a chord to the right leads to Sete Rios station. In recent years there used to be a stop between Campolide and Benfica at Cruz de Pedra, but this closed on 1 December 1992.

  • BENFICA (7km)
    It is here that the routes from Rossio and Roma-Areeiro via Entrecampos join. The station, with its now slightly faded turquoise roof supports, is one of many newly refurbished ones on this line and is in P2P2P layout. Modern automatic destination indicators have been fitted. The right-hand side is lined by blocks of apartments, whilst the left is more open, fringing the Parque Florestal de Monsanto (Monsanto Park).
  • STA CRUZ/ DAMAIA (8km) This is a 1998 amalgamation of two previous stops at Santa Cruz de Benfica and Damaia. Indeed, on the right, approaching the station is the Centro Comercial de Damaia (shopping centre). To the left is a covered section of the Lisbon aqueduct and to the right is the built-up Buraca district. The layout is 1P2P1.

    The striking tiled name board at Reboleira.
  • REBOLEIRA (10km) This is a new station, completed in 1999, whose main feature is its colourful tile work, both on the Sintra-bound platform nameplate and in the station buildings to the right. The layout is P2P2P. On leaving Reboleira, to the left is the floodlit ground of the Estrela Amadora football team. The line turns to the right, where suburban blocks of flats abound on both sides. The extensive Adtranz/ Sorefame/ Bombardier train construction works are to the right of the main line; all three names were once visible on the buildings but now Bombardier predominates. At the time of writing (2005) the works' future was in doubt.
  • AMADORA (12km). This bustling town, with a branch of the ubiquitous McDonalds chain to the left, is served by another recently rebuilt station, finished in green, with ceramic designs, to a 1P2P1 layout. After Amadora the train crosses the short Ponte de Carenque.
  • QUELUZ-BELAS (14km). This is the nearest station for the rococo 18th-century royal palace of Queluz, which used to be glimpsed to the right on approaching the station but remodelling now precludes this. Originally it had an old main station building on the left platform, complete with tiles picking out the former name as Queluz Bellas, whilst on the right platform there was a fine summer display of attractive flowering trees which has been lost in the updating of the station. The two tracks originally passed between the platforms but there was an additional stub-platform to the left; it is now 1P2P1. After leaving the station, to the left, the covered 18th-century aqueduct can be seen near the track.
  • MONTE ABRAÃO (15km). This station, (1P2P1) opened originally in the late 1990s as Queluz-Massamá but was renamed c.2004. It serves as a terminus for rush hour services and serves an expanding belt of commuters' homes. Confusingly, after its renaming, the Massamá name was joined to Barcarena station (see below).
  • MASSAMÁ-BARCARENA (17km) The red roof has a fussy framework support. On leaving there is a stadium (right) and a fast stretch of six tracks before the railway reverts to two tracks (2002), with flats to the left but more rural to the right. Until recently this was a small station (P2P) with some modern shelters and an old station building bearing the former name of Tercena Barcarena. The train now curves to the right, passing a large cement works on the right, whilst to the left there is a mixture of housing and open scrubland.
  • AGUALVA-CACÉM (18km)
    Until recently this was just known as Cacém and was an intermediate terminus for services from Entrecampos-Poente. Changing trains involved crossing the tracks. The layout was 1P2P2P, with the old main building (with a café) being on the right-hand side, with row after row of apartment blocks behind it. However, the two tracks nearest to the old station building have been lifted and partly covered by walkways. Beyond the station, towards Sintra, a line branches off to the right in the direction of Torres Vedras. The initial stretch, to Meleças, has recently been double-tracked.
  • MELEÇAS This is a new station (Nov.2004), built at a cost of 10 million Euros, and now used as an intermediate terminus for some Alverca services. It lies off the Sintra Line proper on the branch towards Torres Vedras. It has a car park for 600 vehicles.
  • RIO DE MOURO (22km) As the train approaches Rio de Mouro the hills of Sintra can be glimpsed in the distance, on the left. A new arched-roof station opened here in June 2002. The original station (P2P) comprised an old building (left) bearing the former name of Rinchoa/ Rio de Mouro some modern shelters and had a level-crossing at its westerly end. On leaving the station, more blocks of flats are passed as the train bears right, then left.
  • MERCÊS (23km) This station (1P1P1) was modernised in 1999 and includes a passenger over-bridge. On leaving the station the four lines reduce to two tracks. A first glimpse of the Pena Palace at Sintra can be seen on the hilltop to the left but apartment blocks continue on the right.
  • ALGUEIRÃ - MEM MARTINS (24km) This is yet another much renamed station. Though modernised, it (P2P) retains its original building on the left platform which still bears its former name of Algueirão / Mem Martins. Nearby Mem Martins is home of the Portuguese paperback book publishers, Europa-América. After the station there are yet more flats to the left whilst smaller houses are to be seen on the right. Also on the right are sidings for Sintra Line stock, at a level slightly lower than the main lines. The crenelated Pena Palace is now clearly visible to the left. To the right, as the train nears Portela, are extensive sidings for Sintra EMU stock, much of which is now graffiti-ed.
  • PORTELA DE SINTRA (27km) This glass-sided station (P2P) is painted in blue, lime green and red and has a P2P formation. There is a newish (2000) transport interchange here, north of the railway. This consists of about ten bays, with a few shelters. Services which operate from here include all ScottURB services, northbound, via Terrugem as well as those operated by Mafrense, including their services to Mafra itself. ScottURB's 403, 417, 418 and 467 link Portela with Cascais, Estoril and Oeiras. SintraLine service 433 starts here as do the 440 to 442 and 444. One of the aims of this interchange was to take pressure off the constricted bus arrangements outside Sintra railway station. Now, not only the Pena Palace but also the ramparts of the older Moorish Castle can be seen from the train at Portela, on the hilltop to the left. After passing some distressed older housing to the left and some more quaint villas to the right, the train passes through a short tunnel into a cutting as it nears Sintra.

    L to R: Sintra Station,1999, with a Stagecoach Portugal 441 service outside; the Moorish castle overlooking the town of Sintra; Sintra station in earlier times.

  • SINTRA (28km)

    L to R: The Pena Palace, perched above Sintra town centre; the backdrop to Sintra station's platforms.
    This terminus station has a 2P2P layout, with the station buildings to the right. These are of some age but adorned with modern canopies. Known as Sintra Vila station until 1954, it formerly had a direct connection to the Sintra-Atlântico tram route to the Atlantic resort of Praia das Maçãs. Inside the station building is a small tourist office as well as the ticket office. The station has some attractive Moorish-style tiles on its exterior walls, whilst the adjacent railway building at the Lisbon end of the complex still bears the decades old legend 'Grande Velocidade'. Looking back from the main building, above the platform canopy is a hill surmounted by the Moorish Castle. If you walk through the main building of the station and turn immediately right on the narrow pavement outside, you will see a number of ScottURB and other operators' bus stops. Just to the right, on the other side of the road, is the stop for the ScottURB service to Sintra town (10 minutes pictureque walk away) with its royal palace (see adjacent picture), and on the hilltop, the Moorish castle and 19th-century Pena Palace. The railway lines are crossed by proceeding to the far end of the station and walking across behind the buffers. If facing the buffers, the town lies ahead past the Apeadeiro restaurant with its impressive railway tilework. If you turn right out of the station booking hall and walk for five minutes or so you will reach the Museu de Arte Moderna (on your left), next to which is the current terminus of the Sintra tramway to Praia das Maçãs.

    For further information on ScottURB's Sintra operations and on the historic Sintra-Atlântico tramway to Praia das Maçãs, see the Luso Pages Sintra Page.
    For further information on the Sintra Line Railway, proceed to the Sintra Line Page, Part Two.

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