The creation of this link passing through the "three biggest cities in the south", Évora, Beja and Faro, would have "the advantage, besides others, of moving a mobility axis to the interior of the country", the Alentejo mayor told Lusa.
Carlos Pinto de Sá stressed that "there is not even" a rail link through the southern interior of the country and that the Main Itinerary (IP) 2, which is a road axis, "is not complete, next to Évora". "This link is of great interest, and we are pleased with the Government's announcement that studies will be carried out in this regard”, he stressed.
The mayor was speaking to Lusa about the National Rail Plan (NFP), which was presented last week by the Government, and which is now going out for public discussion. The plan provides for a study on the high-speed link between Lisbon and the Algarve, with two alternatives: modernisation of the existing line to reduce the journey by around 30 minutes, or a new axis including Évora, Beja and Faro, with a journey time from Lisbon to Faro of less than two hours.
Considering that the two projects are not incompatible, nor do they have to be "placed in alternative", the mayor of Évora admitted, however, that "it is not possible to guarantee the realisation" of the two simultaneously. "Naturally, a Lisbon-Algarve link is very attractive, especially for the coastal area, but this should not jeopardise a link through the interior", he insisted, pointing out that it will be "possible to make the Évora to Lisbon link by rail". Pinto de Sá said that the implementation of the two projects for the high-speed rail link between Lisbon and the Algarve would allow the country to have "two alternatives" and "different products for users".
In addition, for the Alentejo mayor, the construction of a high-speed rail link through the southern interior of the country would also be "absolutely essential to enhance the value of Beja Airport". "So that Beja Airport can function as a passenger terminal, it has to have road and, in particular, rail links that can get passengers, with some speed, to the destinations they seek," he said.
The mayor of Évora also said that the Government has already assumed the commitment to carry out improvement works on "a part" of the current Alentejo Line, namely the electrification of the section between Casa Branca, in the municipality of Montemor-o-Novo (Évora), and Beja. "It is excellent news, because it is an old claim and is fundamental for another use of Beja Airport," he added.
The NFP was presented on Thursday at the National Civil Engineering Laboratory (LNEC), which will be responsible for the strategic environmental assessment of the document, with the cooperation of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning. Approved by the government, the draft NFP will now be put up for public discussion, after which it will return to the Council of Ministers for discussion in Parliament.