Traveling on the regional train that serves the Algarve is virtually impossible for people with disabilities. Even for the able bodied, especially the elderly it is a challenge.
There is a large gap between the steps onto the train and the platform. It is impossible for someone using a wheelchair autonomously, even with the assistance of other passengers . It is a struggle and dangerous to get on and off the trains.
The regional train in the Algarve stops at thirty stations and runs between Lagos and Faro and then onto Vila Real de Santo Antonio and back. There are eight trains a day, unfortunately none of them are accessible to people with reduced mobility.
In 2019 we asked the train company, Comboios Portugal (CP) for assistance to travel on the train from Lagos to Portimão with a mobility scooter or wheelchair. We were told no assistance is available and it is not possible for someone with a wheelchair or mobility scooter to get on and off the trains. We were also told assistance is only available on the Alfa pendular train that runs from Tunes or Faro to Lisbon. This leaves the stations and locations on the Algarve line completely out of reach for the disabled.
On Jan 28, 2020 we sent a registered letter to Colonel Neves of the Special Assistance section of Comboios Portugal. We asked when the Algarve trains were going to become accessible. At the moment the regional line is being converted to electric lines. He replied “maybe the trains could be accessible when the work is complete”. At the end of this page is our letter and CP’s reply.
In 2019 we contacted the Association of Algarve Municipalities (AMAL) and Ana Sofia Tunes, the Secretary for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities, neither have given us the courtesy of a reply.
Both Portuguese and European laws protect the rights of people with disabilities. CP is clearly in violation of these laws by denying the right to access the Algarve train line. It is time to hold public transportation entities such as CP to account so both residents and visitors with disabilities have equal access to ride the Algarve trains.
A very simple solution is to have a ramp on each train or at each station. These ramps can be used by train staff to quickly assist the mobility challenged passenger on and off the train. These ramps are in use in many EU countries. We had the opportunity to use the British trains and access was quick and easy.
Many disabled people do not drive a car. Access to public transportation is essential. Living in Lagos we often need to go to Portimão for medical appointments. I would like to be able to shop or visit friends as my abled bodied friends can do. Opening the trains to people with limited mobility opens up a whole new world and improves the quality of life for everyone.
We would like to encourage our readers to contact CP, members of Parliament and your local officials to take action and make train travel in the Algarve possible for the disabled.
or use the comment section below.
Below is the correspondence with CP.
Conselheiro para o Cliente com necessidades especiais .
Ten. Cor. António Neves
CP- Comboios de Portugal,
Calçada do Duque, No 20,
Dear Cor. Ten António Neves,
My name is Constance Houck and I live in Lagos in the Algarve, I am a permanent resident of Portugal. Unfortunately in 2014 I became permanently disabled and I must use a wheelchair or a mobility scooter to move around.
I am unable to drive a car and I would really like to travel around the Algarve on the regional train that runs between Lagos and Faro and from Faro on to Vila Real de Santo Antonio.
I have been to the station in Lagos and filled out a request for assistance online for me to travel with my mobility scooter and I have been told that there is no assistance available and no way for me to board or exit the train.
One simple solution is to have strong Portable Ramps that can easily be stored on the train; assistance with the ramp could be provided by CP staff that are onboard the train.
Can you please tell me when CP will make these regional trains accessible for all people living in and visiting the Algarve?
I would like to have the freedom and dignity to travel on public transportation in the Algarve, including the trains.
I look forward to your reply.
address and personal information omitted
On January 31st, 2020 I received the e-mail below:
Exma. Mrs. Constance Houck,
In response to the communication received, we inform you that the electrification of the Algarve Line is planned, a work carried out by IP, SA.
When the referred work is completed, CP may allocate electric trains to the Linha do Algarve service that are adapted to transport People with Reduced Mobility.
We appreciate the best understanding and the interest shown.