Metro Mondego is the new mobility focus within the city of Coimbra. Those who live in the city have seen the works being done, on a project that was first approved in the 80’s, but that has only now begun to transform from a project on paper to reality.

A new reality

Mayor of Coimbra, José Manuel Silva said in an interview with The Portugal News that the project will not only bring a new, environmentally friendly mode of transport, as it is an electric transport system, but will also try to restore “a [previously used railway] connection to the area of Lousã that had disappeared and caused serious embarrassment.”

The new means of transport will close one of the train stations in Coimbra, the closest to the city centre, Estação Nova. The mayor says that the closure of the station will not bring any consequences to the city. People will embark and disembark exclusively at the current Coimbra-B, which will soon become an intermodal platform, where people will be able to take the Metrobus to other points in the city, in a faster and safer way.

The new means of transport, Metro Mondego, will pass through areas that, in terms of public transport, are provided by the SMTUC, public road transport in the municipality of Coimbra. Although studies on this matter have not yet been carried out, some interventions will have to be made to reconcile the buses and the Metrobus. José Manuel Silva says that there should be “a single ticketing system” so that people can use the two means of transport. The president of Coimbra also says that the Metro Mondego “will obviously free up some buses and some drivers”, however, the objective is that by suppressing lines in the central area of the city, others can be created to serve the outskirts of the municipality that are not so well served by bus, thus avoiding dismissing staff while serving the community that lives in peripheral areas.

Best northern station

The current Estação Nova will be closed, but Coimbra-B will undergo a remodelling process. Coimbra-B station will integrate the passage of high-speed trains and in the project that has already been approved “there will be a new dimension, a new architecture”, in what will be consolidated as an intermodal station. José Manuel Silva assures that after the works, Coimbra will be able to have “the best station on the northern line.” Also, with the integration of the high-speed train, Coimbra will become closer to the airports of the cities of Porto and Lisbon.

Despite the progress of works for Metro Mondego, José Manuel Silva admits that it is still not possible to give a concrete date for the completion of the works, although it is expected that “within four years” the population will be able to use the Metrobus services.

New airport?

The construction of an airport in the central area has been rumoured and this speculation was confirmed by the mayor of Coimbra, who reveals that he does not consider an airport “essential for the development of Coimbra”. With the integration of the high-speed train in the city, Coimbra will be closer to the two airports with the most travel in Portugal. However, José Manuel Silva defends that if an airport must be built to relieve Lisbon airport, it should be built in the central area of the country and not in the south. The president says that the ideal would be to build “in the region between Soure and Pombal”.

Vast history

Despite understanding that an airport is a “development factor”, which increases tourism flows, José Manuel Silva reiterates that Coimbra does not need an airport to attract tourism. Coimbra was Portugal’s first capital, where “each stone has a story”. According to the president, the city has a vast collection of “historical and cultural heritage that no other part of the country has”. However, all this heritage needs to be developed, opening up “the world heritage of Coimbra to the world”.

Coimbra has created an identity around the students and the university, reducing tourist trips to these areas and the candidacy of José Manuel Silva, in part, was also to end this cliché linked to Coimbra. The president admits that, in previous terms, there was a lack of marketing. Despite Coimbra establishing itself as a “strong brand”, there was a lack of work on other matters. To this end, some works are already being carried out, namely the construction of a statue in honour of the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, who is buried in the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, although few people know about this.

“Portuguese Florence”

At the end of the interview, José Manuel Silva quoted words from Italian tourists, who call Coimbra the “Portuguese Florence”. The president of the student city also invites tourists to visit the “immense heritage” of Coimbra, both built and cultural, to try the recipe for Bacalhau à Coimbra and discover the “geographic beauty of the city”, as “there is no city in the country that has this combination of history and culture”.