High speed. Line will have a maximum speed of 250 km/h between Porto and Valença

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IP confirms the high-speed station in Ponte de Lima, and those already announced at Sá Carneiro airport, in Braga and Valença. The specifications state that the line may initially be built as a single track, depending on demand studies.

The high-speed line between Porto and Valença will only allow speeds of 250 km/h, as opposed to the 300 km/h between Porto and Lisbon. Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP) has contracted the environmental studies for the line that will connect Porto to the Spanish border and continue on to Vigo, and has maintained the maximum speed projected in 2010 by the former RAVE.

According to the specifications – which are public and form part of the contracting procedure – the 115 km line that will cross the Porto and Minho regions has a maximum speed of 250 km/h, and a minimum speed of 160 km/h. Another technical requirement is that it be built as a double-track line – that is, allowing trains to run in both directions on both tracks.

According to an official IP source, the project fulfills the “objective” of connecting Porto to Vigo with a one-hour journey, and will allow a journey “under that time” with the completion of the second phase – the section between Francisco Sá Carneiro airport and Nine (the start of the Braga branch line, on the Minho Line). See the map of the route approved in 2010 below.

On the other hand, the more rugged terrain of the northern region, with several valleys and mountains, already requires the construction of more tunnels and viaducts. Opting for a maximum speed of 300 km/h could cause costs to escalate, due to the need to further reduce the gradients of the route.

A speed of 250 km/h does not disqualify this line as high-speed. According to current European regulations, lines are considered high-speed if they are built for speeds of at least 250 km/h, or if they are upgraded to speeds of around 200 km/h. For the International Union of Railways, lines of at least 250 km/h are part of the main category of high-speed rail.

The first phase of the link between Porto and Vigo includes the section between Braga and Valença and the connection from Porto Campanhã station to Sá Carneiro airport (where IP wants a Materials and Workshop Park to serve the trains). Construction is expected to take place between 2027 and 2032. The second phase is scheduled for after 2030.
IP admits to building this single-track high-speed line “in parts of the extension”, phasing in the construction of the second track – as is the case with the International Southern Corridor, on the new line (also high-speed) built between Évora and Elvas. The final decision will depend on demand and operation studies, which are being carried out in conjunction with ADIF (IP’s Spanish counterpart).

Hypothetical station in Ponte de Lima confirmed

As was the case with the sections of the line between Porto and Lisbon, the environmental studies now under contract are not new, but an update of those carried out by the now defunct RAVE (High Speed Rail Network) in the first decade of this century. The section between Braga and Valença even had environmental authorization issued at the end of December 2010.

In addition to authorizing “all the necessary alterations/rectifications” to the Braga branch and the Minho Line “to allow the Braga branch to be integrated into the high-speed line”, the specifications for the Minho section confirm the existence of a station in Ponte de Lima, as well as in Braga and Valença.

The possibility of creating a train station in the municipality of Alto Minho appeared in the National Rail Plan presented by the previous government in November 2022. As always, the existence of the station does not mean that all trains have to stop in Ponte de Lima.

The location of the station is still open – it will only be defined when the environmental impact statement is issued, after the public consultation phase – but IP has defined the possible area as the overtaking and train parking point envisaged in RAVE’s study.

In 2010, the route hypotheses placed these points either in the parish of Brandara or in the parish of Estorãos, but it was the route that passed through Brandara, about 6 km from the center of Ponte de Lima, that was approved by the Portuguese Environment Agency.

Braga – Valença high-speed rail line under study again

The route was already approved in 2010. All the alternatives will be studied again.

High speed. Line will have a maximum speed of 250 km/h between Porto and Valença

Infraestruturas de Portugal also defined the study of three possible locations for the Braga high-speed station – including two underground hypotheses, either near the current station or at the junction of the high-speed line with the Braga branch line (in Tadim). The project approved in 2010 foresaw the line passing through the west of the city in a tunnel.

There are also two possible locations for Valença station. One is to adapt the current station to receive high-speed trains; the other is to opt for the location designed by RAVE in 2010.

The use of existing stations has been one of IP’s criteria in the revival of the high-speed rail project in Portugal. The Valença station has more space around it than the Braga station, which was refurbished in 2003 and 2004 and is surrounded by urbanization, but both will test this preference of the rail network manager.

Where a new station will have to be built is at Francisco Sá Carneiro airport. In 2022, IP proposed to the government that this high-speed train connection to the airport be brought forward in exchange for the postponement of the third phase of the Porto – Lisbon line, between Carregado and Lisbon.

There is still no estimated cost for the high-speed line between Porto and Valença. But the two contracts signed now – with separate studies for the Braga – Valença section and the Porto – Braga link – exceed 980 thousand euros.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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