Portugal's poor rail connections with neighboring Spain, and even some within the country, are being blamed for environmental damage by Greenpeace, an international environmental non-governmental organization.
The two countries are currently connected by only two trains a day, from Porto to Vigo, Spain, and travel between Lisbon and Madrid is slow enough and complicated enough that it can't be completed in a day. Greenpeace blames the poor connections for the prevalence of air travel on routes between the two countries.
Although plans have been in the works for many years for better connections, little of the infrastructure work has been done on the Portuguese side, although Spain has several projects, nearly completed, to bring high-speed service to the border, and has invested in technology that would allow through trains. At present, because of gauge differences, passengers must change trains at border stations.
Greenpeace also looked at two key domestic routes and their pricing. One, headed north from Lisbon to Porto, has hourly rail service at prices that can be less than half the price of air; the other, south from Lisbon to Faro in the vacation-heavy Algarve, has rail fares 70% higher than flying—and slow schedules that make it a six-hour journey.