Government admits delays on railway plans

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 21-11-2019 12:00:00 · 0 Comments

Portugal’s minister of infrastructure, Pedro Nuno Santos, has admitted delays and constraints in projects to modernise the railways but ruled out the possibility of any cancellation in the implementation of the 2020 rail plan.

"No works have been cancelled or works, what we have [...] are delays in the works," the minister said on the sidelines of the signing of the Company Agreement of the railway maintenance company Empresa de Manutenção de Equipamento Ferroviário (EMEF) in Lisbon.

The minister was reacting to Tuesday’s headline of the newspaper Jornal de Notícias that reported the postponement of 18 works scheduled under the 2020 Railway programme, presented in February 2016, worth €2 billion, and the cancellation of the electrification of the line between Viana do Castelo and Valença.

Pedro Nuno Santos explained that the public investment works often do not foresee constraints, such as candidates who challenge contests, delays in the Court of Auditors or environmental impact assessments that require changes: "The constraints that public investment faces mean that, unfortunately, we have to regularly witness delays in some of the works," the minister said.

As for delayed works, Jornal de Notícias reported that they affect the North Line, the connection between Espinho and Gaia, the renovation of the line between Covilhã and Guarda, the modernisation of the West Line, between Mira Sintra-Meleças and Caldas da Rainha, and the electrification between Lagos and Tunes and between Faro and Vila Real de Santo António.

The agreement signed on Tuesday by EMEF, and signed by several trade union organisations (SINDEFER, STMEFE, FECTRANS/SNTSF, SINFB and SINAFE) will allow the salary increase of €25 until 1 January 2020, an increase of €10 in January and an increase in the value of the remuneration index of entry into the career of EMEF worker, from about €736 to €796.11.

The conclusion of this negotiation process was part of the strategy defined by the government at the end of June 2018, which defined the immediate hiring of 67 workers for EMEF and the replacement of retirees.

The coordinator of the Federação dos Sindicatos dos Transportes e Comunicações (Fectrans/CGTP-IN) José Manuel Oliveira, in a statement at the end of the ceremony, said that he expects the company to soon become the workshop sector of rail operator CP - Comboios de Portugal, and not an autonomous company, defining in this agreement the starting points of this phase of integration.

For his part, Pedro Nuno Santos said it was a very important agreement to enhance a critical activity for the operation of CP and the country, and stressed the role of EMEF workers who said they had done, over the years, miracles by managing to keep very old rolling stock in operation.


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