Oporto Railway Stations - Estações Ferroviárias do Porto
4 July 2011
São Bento arrivals and departures board.
Compiled by John Laidlar
The Metro more or less replicates the Trindade to Póvoa de Varzim narrow-gauge route - 30km to the north of Oporto. But the valley lines to towns such as Amarante (Tamega), Vila Real (Corgo), Mirandela and Bragança (Tua) are not now possible. The Livração to Amarante route, for example, is supposedly only closed temporarily for repairs but that situation has gone on for two years and in 2011 the line looks abandoned.
The city of Oporto today has three main stations, just as it did in the Baedeker's Spain and Portugal, published in 1898. But back then the so called Estação Central was the newly opened facility known now as S. Bento. The other two stations were the Estação do Caminho de Ferro Norte e Leste e Linha do Minho e Douro (North & East Railway and Minho and Douro Line Station) is what we now know as Campanhã. What Baedeker termed the Estação do Caminho de Ferro da Póvoa (Póvoa de Varzim Line Railway Station) was then at Boavista, where the station still survives on the roundabout, despite its main function being lost with the opening of the Trindade station which became, for many decades, the terminus of Oporto's narrow gauge lines to the north, before its recent transformation into the huib of the Metro system.
Over in Gaia, across the river, the main station at Vila Nova de Gaia is high above the port wine lodges. Back in 1898, Baedeker's "Estação de Gaia" was on the quayside. From here a steam-hauled rack-railway ran up the steep street (Rua Serpa Pinto) to join the main line. Even in the 1980s passengers on the main line could see the remains of part of this rack-line from the carriage windows. Gaia also has a General Torres station which links to the Metro. General Torres was formerly a very cramped stop just before the line swung across the D Maria Pia bridge into Oporto but is now a modernised station.
São Bento Station, opened in 1896, is the central station of Oporto and is famous for the tiled murals in its main concourse, as depicted above. The station was opened in 1910 and the hilly and rocky terrain of the city meant that the lines into the platforms lead immediately into a lengthy tunnel. Services are therefore limited and it is Campanhã on the city's outskirts, which is the city's main station. All services from São Bento call at Campanhã but not vice versa. For an account of the journey from here to Coimbra, click here.
Current (2011) services from this station include those to Braga, Guimarães, Caíde, Régua, Aveiro and Ovar.
São Bento occupies a fine stone structure on the eastern side of the Praça de Liberdade, which lies just south of the main Avenida dos Aliados. Within the railway station is an efficient enquiry office, refreshment facilities and ticket machines.
ABove l. to r.: Campanhã main façade; platform and EMU service at the station.
As in Lisbon, the main railway station lies some distance from the city centre. Indeed, Campanhã is 2km from the centre. Access to the station by rail is complicated from the south by the terrain and until recently complicated reversing procedures were necessary when the Ponte Dona Maria Pia was the only cross-river rail link. The replacement of the Dona Maria Pia bridge by the new S. João structure in the 1990s greatly simplified this route. Likewise, passenger access to the station from the city centre has been transformed in recent years by the arrival of the Metro, which now serves Campanhã.
Trindade Station lies a short distance behind the city's town hall, to the right of the church of the same name, and is the hub of the Metro service, with all six lines passing through it. Line D uses the lower level, whilst all other Lines operate throught the ground level station from the same two platforms, providing an intensive service. There is a stub line in addition to these platforms behind which stands the Loja Andante (Andante Shop) from where Metro and STCP bus passes and information can be obtained. The station also has numerous automatic ticket machines and validators.
Note that the "next train" indicators cycle through all the services so keep looking at them until you see the destination you require anmd the earliest arrival time. For example, if you are travelling to Senhora da Hora, the display may initially say "Aeroporto 15 mins", followed by "ISMAI 1 min", followed by "Póvoa de Varzim 8 mins"; all three of these services stop at Senhora da Hora.
There is an excellent bar/café on the main upper level platform towards Estádio do Dragão and more refreshment facilities in the lower level, too.
On the east bound platform there is a lift which, from the second floor, allows a short-cut to the Rua Guedes de Azevedo near the Dom Henrique hotel landmark.
When used as a narrow gauge train station Trindade had a hemmed-in feel with its six narrow platforms and intensive services. Now, with just two platforms in normal use at the upper level, it feels spacious, though all Metros still have to negotiate a tight curve to exit the station to the north through the old tunnel which survives from narrow-gauge days.
By summer 2001 it had closed for narrow-gage rail operations and the tracks had been lifted but, before then, it had been a thriving suburban station serving destinations to the north Oporto which included Póvoa de Varzim (30km) and Santo Tirso (25km), which are now Metro stations. The first new light-rail vehicle ran through to the station on 20 November 2002. By 2005 Trindade was operational as a busy Metro station.
Many of the class 9600 narrow-gauge diesel units which formerly operated from here have been sold to Cameroun, with others going to Argentina.
The adjacent photos show Trindade as demolition took place. The top photo shows the frontage which, in the lower photo, is the white building in the lower left corner, with the frontage facing away from the camera to the left. The tracks ran more or less horizontally with the bottom of the photo, the buffers being sited on the left side of the image. It remained a building site as late as summer 2005 even though the Metro was operational behind the hoardings. The lower part of the now two-level station provides a tunnel connection by Metro to the main line station at Campanhã, which otherwise lies an inconveniently long distance east of the city centre.
Above left: Trindade CP station being demolished in 2001; centre: the same site in 2011 - the grass to the right is the roof of Trindade Metro station; right: the tight curve from the end of the Metro platform towards the tunnel and the north (2011).
Photos inside the modern Trindade are to be found on the Metro page.
L. to R. 1. Old and 2. Refurbished suburban stock at Campanhã, 2001; 3. DMU on Régua service 2011, 4. Remodelled unit at Campanhã in summer 2005, 5. New class 3400 EMU stock at Campanhã in summer 2005.
As in Lisbon, the main suburban and short-distance services were organised some years ago into four "families" of service, operated by a sub-section of the national company CP (Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses). This sub-section is the Unidade de Suburbanos do Grande Porto, (The Greater Oporto Suburban Services Unit) and the groups of services are:
EMUs (class 3400) were introduced in late 2002 on the suburban services. Longer distance services include the Alfa Pendular expresses to Lisbon. These use Fiat Pendolinos and call at Coimbra, Aveiro and Leiria en route to Lisbon Oriente and Santa Apolónia or Pragal.
New Eurotram Light-Rail Vehicles (LRVs) have been introduced over the network of the Metro do Porto, which now has 80stations. A major feature of this system is a new tunnel linking Campanhã and Trindade stations through which services run via Senhora da Hora, north of the city centre, to Matosinhos and Póvoa de Varzim.