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Spain to Portugal travel: Madrid-Lisbon high-speed train and Lisbon airport to be completed by 2034

Renfe says plans for expansion into Portugal are yet to be confirmed.
Renfe says plans for expansion into Portugal are yet to be confirmed. Copyright Renfe Group via Business Wire/AP
Copyright Renfe Group via Business Wire/AP
By Euronews Travel
Published on
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Portugal is also planning a new airport near Lisbon to improve connections to the city.

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Portugal has confirmed that a new high-speed train route linking Madrid and Lisbon will be operational by 2034.

Last year, Spain's state-owned rail company Renfe announced it would be launching services linking the two countries' capitals, and the northwest Spanish port city of A Coruña with Porto.

Spain says it will have the section of the train route from Madrid to Extremadura, with a stop in Toledo and Talavera, completed by 2030.

Madrid and Lisbon have not been linked by a direct train since 2020, when Renfe discontinued its overnight train-hotel service.

"Recovering the night train that connects Lisbon with Madrid is vital to facilitate public transport mobility between the countries of the Iberian Peninsula," tweeted MP Júlia Boada in November last year.

Portugal's government says the train links are key to decarbonising transport and will see flights between the capitals reduced.

That said, the government is also planning a new airport in the Lisbon region as part of the push to improve connections to the country. 

Here’s everything we know so far.

Spanish trains will take advantage of Portugal’s new high-speed line

Portugal is developing a new high-speed train line, the first part of which is due to be completed in 2024 ready for the first journeys in 2025.

The 100km line from Elvas to Evora will cut the journey time between Lisbon in west Portugal and Badajoz in west Spain from three-and-a-half to under two hours.

It will be part of a wider Iberian high-speed rail network that will also connect Lisbon to Porto in around 1 hour 15 minutes - less than half the time it currently takes.

According to Spanish news site El Español, it is hoped the line will connect Madrid and Lisbon via Badajoz in six hours by 2027 and three hours by 2034 when the entire route is operational.

The coastal line, meanwhile, could extend to Vigo, Santiago and A Coruña in northwest Spain, while Madrid could be connected to Porto via Salamanca.

Why is there no train line between Spain and Portugal?

Renfe needs to invest €15 million to adapt part of its rolling stock to Portuguese infrastructure, according to La Información.

Various infrastructure issues need to be addressed before cross-border trains can operate. These include discrepancies in electrical voltages and signalling systems that are not expected to be resolved until at least 2025, the news site reports.

Last year though, the Spanish and Portuguese prime ministers endorsed plans to improve train connectivity between their two countries in line with the EU’s plan to liberalise Europe’s railways.

And last November, Sumar party MPs voiced their support for a rail link to support sustainable travel and boost economic relations between Spain and Portugal.

Renfe stopped operating the Madrid-Lisbon Trenhotel Lusitania in May 2020 due to the pandemic, and never resumed the service.

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Portugal plans new airport near Lisbon

Portugal is also constructing a new international airport in Alcochete, about 40 kilometres from the capital, after decades of indecision.

The transport hub will be in operation by 2034 and will replace Lisbon's Humberto Delgado airport (although this will be expanded while the new airport is being built).

Portugal's tourism industry says the development is necessary as Humberto Delgado is currently operating at full capacity.

To improve connections from Lisbon city centre to the new airport, the government also plans to build a third bridge over the Tagus river.

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