by Gavin Booth
Published by the LRTA 2022
Portugal’s first-generation electric tramways reached their peak in the 1950s, with five systems providing a significant proportion of public transport in their localities. They had been introduced over a 20-year period, starting with Porto in 1895, followed by Lisboa in 1901, Sintra in 1904, Coimbra in 1911 and Braga in 1914. Both Braga and Coimbra closed their tramways in 1963 and 1980 respectively. The Sintra tramway led a chequered life with cutbacks at both ends of its single route as well as changes of ownership and periods when it did not operate at all. Recent investment has ensured that its future is more secure.
When the author first encountered Portugal’s remaining tramways in 1985 they were looking tired and there were fascinating glimpses of abandoned track that were reminders of the heyday of these systems. Since then he has witnessed their renaissance and, reassuringly, the introduction of two totally new systems. In 1960 Portugal had five active tramways; by 1985 this number had dropped to three, including Sintra that was barely functioning at the time. Today, following the introduction of the Metro do Porto in 2005 and the Metro Transportes do Sul in 2007, the tally has returned to five and the future looks bright for all of them.
A4 Hardback landscape format comprises 144 pages Fully illustrated in colour