By Chris King • 20 September 2023 • 0:52
Image of a train at Lagos station in Portugal.
Credit: Nithin bolar k/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0
A recent study by the NGO Greenpeace revealed that Portugal was third on the list of European countries to have lost the most railways in recent decades.
On the contrary, the report indicated that investment in roads had increased significantly. It found that Portugal had invested more than three times more in roads than in trains.
In 23 years, the country expanded its road network by more than 2,300 kilometres, while the railway network decreased by 18 per cent. The Portuguese government spent more than €23,000 million on roads, compared to €7,7000 million on railways.
Of the European countries analysed, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the European Union also invested another €1.5 billion to the detriment of trains. At the European level, €930,000 million were spent on the railways.
As shown by the report, Portugal was the third country that spent the most on motorways after Spain and France. The national rail network had the third largest reduction after only Latvia and Poland.
According to the same study, since 1995, the number of passengers on Portuguese trains has decreased and eight lines covering a total of 460 kilometres have been decommissioned. According to the environmental NGO’s estimates, this affected around 100,000 people.
‘Millions of people outside cities have no option but to own a car to get to work, take kids to school or access basic services, living in areas with little or no public transport’, said Lorelei Limousin, the Greenpeace EU senior climate campaigner.
She continued: ‘This is a direct result of governments dismantling local and regional rail networks while pouring money into roads. Climate pollution from transport is through the roof, and we’ve seen people around Europe and across the world suffer the consequences’.
‘Governments and the EU must hit the brakes on this dismantling of our train lines, reopen disused tracks, and invest in rail – and stop the massive subsidies for roads that wreck the climate, pollute the air, and make people’s lives miserable’, she added.
Since 2015, the Government of António Costa has presented the extension of the railway as a priority. Some of the works planned for this decade have been delayed.
A plan that was first launched seven years ago – which should have been completed three years ago – currently has less than 20 per cent of the projects completed.
Trains are recognised by environmental groups as the most effective form of transport for reducing greenhouse gases when compared to cars.
Greenpeace applauded the creation of the new railway pass for €49 euros per month, which came into force on August 1 and allows passengers to travel on regional trains right across the country.
As explained in their factsheet, the data for the Greenpeace study were mainly derived from public sources, including Eurostat, ITF-OECD, Worldbank, and the European Commission’s Statistical Pocketbook, as well as railway companies. The report always takes into account the latest available data that allows for European comparisons.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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