Wednesday, 31 October 2012

CP - Portuguese Railways - Labour Disputes - Warning

Although there is a general tomorrow in Portugal, there are also ongoing periodic rail strikes and "works to rule" continuing on the railways. Although I live here, speak Portuguese, and was full aware of the problem , we got nobbled this morning when taking a train from Lisbon to Lagos. We picked up a ticket to get the 10:29 Intercidades from Lisbon to Tunes, whence we would have changed train to Lagos. We were not advised at the ticket office in Lisbon, that the connecting train from Tunes to Lagos was cancelled due to strikes! Furthermore, the ticket collector on-board the train smiled sweetly at us when we presented our tickets, said "mude em Tunes" (change in Tunes - as usual) and then carried on with no mentioned of the strikes or "work to rule". On disembarking at Tunes, (at 13:20) along with many locals, there was a garbled message which no one could hear because of the departing train. Following discussions with some interested locals over the lines, and using the help line, I established that the 13h25 to Lagos was cancelled owing to "strike action" and that the next train was at 16:57. In the end, we clubbed together with some locals and took a taxi at a considerable extra expense back to Lagos. The real issue is that information on late cancellations is not being passed on to the ticket offices, etc. As regards travelling to the Algarve, I therefore have to strongly recommend that anyone seeking to head from Lisbon to the Western Algarve, (i.e. Silves, Portimão and Lagos), DO NOT, for the present, use rail travel. There is no indication yet as to whether the current work to rule is going to continue after the national rail strike on 1st November, and as alternative public transport from Tunes to the above centres is non-existent, you may end up paying € 12:50 each for a cab with four people to get to Lagos. I STRONGLY recommend that anyone seeking to travel from Lisbon to the Western Algarve USE one of the three bus services, Renex, Rede Expessos or EVA (Search this forum for information this!:) I also strongly recommend travellers to continue to use this option until the rail labour disputes end! If these labour disputes do not end soon, I can see Portuguese Railways local rail services going out of business and, in reality, pehaps that would be the best giving the problems being faced by tourist visiting the Algarve!