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High-speed rail: Lisbon's loss, Porto's gain?


One of the biggest missing links in Europe's high-speed rail networks may stay on the missing list, with the planned Madrid to Lisbon link taking a backseat to a connection with Portugal's northern city of Porto.

The long-planned fast connection between the capitals seemed finally under way two years ago when Portugal's infrastructure minister told the European Parliament that the line would be finished by 2023. However, while the Madrid-to-the-border connection is well along in construction, it appears that nothing has been done at all on the Portuguese side.

The Portuguese government recently announced that connections to Madrid would now be reduced to nine hours is way off the under three hours a high-speed train would take, and is in fact longer than the 6.5 hour bus schedule between the cities and longer than the timetables of forty years ago.

Meanwhile, Spain is also upgrading its connections to Porto, making it possible that Spanish high-speed trains might head there instead, and Portugal is actively upgrading its only existing near-high-speed line to full speed, connecting Porto to Lisbon and then on to the Algarve region in the south. That might become the faster route from Madrid to Lisbon.

Image: Portugal's Alfa Pendicular fast train between Porto and Lisbon

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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