The surface metro linking Odivelas and Loures (which will be the future Violet Line of the Lisbon Metro) will be one kilometer shorter and have two fewer stations than planned. Public transport will be on the doorstep of Urbanização do Infantado; residents feared a loss of parking and space for cars.
The future Violet Line of the Lisbon Metro, a surface line that will serve the municipalities of Odivelas and Loures, will not enter the urban center of Infantado, after some residents showed it, through an online petitionIn addition, there was concern about the reduction in parking spaces and traffic lanes that the metro route would cause. The route that had been presented is therefore being shortened by about a kilometer and the number of planned stations will also be reduced from 19 to 17.
The change in the project means, in a nutshell, that the Violet Line - which would form a "U" in the municipality of Loures, linking the Beatriz Ângelo Hospital to Infantado, passing through the Odivelas metro station - will not be able to continue. on the Infantado side, you're on the doorstep of a densely populated areaknown as Urbanização do Infantado. At this location, the last station will be Loures Valleylocated near the shopping center LoureShoppingThis means that the metro will not enter the urban core itself, where it would follow Avenida das Descobertas and have two stations: the Infantado and that of Quinta de São Roqueon the northern periphery of urbanization.
Changes in both extremities
It was the newspaper Público which reported these changes, citing the Loures City Council. The municipality led by Ricardo Leão also noted that the The Material and Workshop Park (PMO), essential infrastructure for any metro line, will have to be relocated.This was not only due to the shortening of the line, but also because of other issues. The PMO was planned for Infantado, after the Quinta de São Roque station. However, according to the environmental impact study, this location would require the felling of several trees and would make it impossible to run a wine tourism business from a nearby farm.
The PMO will then move to the other end of the line, next to the Planalto da Caldeira and Hospital Beatriz Ângelo stations. According to the Loures City Council, quoted by the Público newspaper, "Over the last few months, Metro de Lisboa has been evaluating the technical issues and the impact on natural resources for the new location of the PMO, and has come to the conclusion that it should be located on the Caldeira Plateau.". This location had raised environmental concerns, as mentioned by Nuno Dias (PS), Loures' Councillor for Urbanism, at the town hall meeting on July 19th.
In response to Tiago Matias, a communist councillor, on whether the PMO on the Planalto da Caldeira would not "compromising the only green space in the area" and for which an urban park is planned, Nuno Dias admitted difficulties in finding a site for the infrastructure, which will occupy four hectares. "It's a big, heavy piece of equipment and its location needs to be fine-tuned, not least so as not to jeopardize the green park"he acknowledged. The Socialist mayor said at the meeting, is working with the Metro to find "the most suitable place, so that it doesn't contribute to the disappearance of that green spot"; now, according to PúblicoThe solution has already been found and communicated to the owners of the land in question and the parish councils.
There will also be changes to the route at this end. The last station, Hospital Beatriz Ângelo, will be closer to the hospital building "in order to facilitate access and provide better access for users who come to this hospital"informs the municipality of Loures, which said that the route presented "the station was to be located a considerable distance from the access to the hospital building". On the other hand, the penultimate station, Planalto da Caldeira, should be relocated to an area attached to the parking lot of the Continente Shopping Center in Loures, since the location that was on the table is unfeasible due to the construction of a large logistics center, the VGP Park Loures. "As the location of the Planalto da Caldeira station is hampered by the work being carried out on the VGP Park Loures, Metro de Lisboa was presented with a proposal to relocate the station to the parking floor of the Continente Shopping Center, adjacent to it."said the Câmara de Loures to Público.
They prefer cars to the Metro
But let's return to Infantado, where the biggest change to the original project is underwayThe proposed route, with the elimination of two stations and a kilometer of network, has been met with popular protest. Some residents of Urbanização do Infantado launched an online petition to show their opposition to the proposed route, gathering more than 790 signatures. They wrote that "This urbanization is characterized by a high population density and is still expanding, there is currently a clear lack of parking spaces and heavy traffic congestion at peak times“. "The current project involves significant reduction in parking spaces (its passage through the road divider implies the elimination of adjacent parking lots) and reduction of traffic lanes with traffic bottlenecks in only one lane - where now there are two"you can read in the text.
The petitioners were also concerned about the interruption of road traffic at traffic circles for the metro and about a "foreseeable increase in local circulation" due to the demand that the metro line would bring to the area. "It is also important to mention the excessive proximity of the metro route to residential buildingsand a school, with the well-known drawbacks in terms of safety, noise pollution and vibration. No less important, this project also involves destruction of the iconic broom palm trees of this urbanizationas well as several green areas, which are already scarce."
In April, to the newspaper ExpressoThe Loures municipality had shown solidarity with the petition and with the objections it had heard at sessions it promoted to present the project. In the case of Infantado, "We held a public meeting and found that the population didn't want the metro to pass through the Infantado urbanization. We then carried out a survey with around three thousand responses and 70% of that population didn't want it"said Ricardo Leão, Mayor of Loures. "We were surprised that the previous executive didn't listen to the population beforehand. It's up to us to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the population"he added to Expresso. Ricardo Leão, of the PS, only took office as mayor of Loures at the end of September/beginning of October 2021, the protocol for the development of the Violet Line having been signed two months earlier by the municipality led by Bernardino Soares, of the CDU.
The route of the Violet Line in Infantado had already been contested by the Loures Parish Council, led by António Pombinho (CDU), which suggested an alternative route because it believed that the proposed "crosses the interior of the urbanization, in the middle of residential buildings, with a reduction in road circulation and parking spaces, which are already scarce for the existing demand"reducing the quality of life of the inhabitants.
A petition contrary to the one above began circulating in April, but failed to get much traction. It argues that "metro lines should reach residential areas like ours, and not just serve as transport to the shopping center", adding that "Urbanização do Infantado has always been in the plan, at the request of its own residents who wanted better transport alternatives for their daily lives". Only 23 petitioners believe that the Violet Line "is the only way to combat the problems of congestion, parking and road safety in the Urbanization of Infantado".
The project, second presented in January this yearIn addition to the Quinta de São Roque station, it was planned to create a a new car parking lot with 82 spacesIn addition, a section of the bicycle lane on Avenida das Descobertas, which is currently being developed into a parking area, would be eliminated to allow for the insertion of more spaces (the spaces that currently exist in parallel would become a spine, and bicycle traffic would be carried out together with pedestrians on the already narrow sidewalk).
In addition, along the entire Avenida das Descobertas, the The Violet Line would pass through the avenue's central divider, where there is an alignment of palm trees, which would have to be removedHowever, this planting does not provide any shade for the pedestrian areas, where there are other trees that would be kept (and which could be reinforced). What's more, the avenue would have one lane per direction for almost its entire length (it currently has two and both would only be maintained in occasional cases) and would maintain the current significant parking supply. The only thing that would be eliminated is the informal parking that takes place in the middle of the avenue, which would be compensated for with the new parking lot mentioned above, for example. A solution could also be found for night-time resident parking at LoureShopping, similar to what is being done in Lisbon.
Hope for the future?
Earlier this year, the Violet Line plan was put out to public consultation through the government platform Participa.ptand anyone could submit contributions. At the same time, Loures City Council promoted local project presentation sessions and launched a own form for the population to participate directly with the municipality.
O construction of the Violet Line is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2024 and end in the second half of 2026in order to benefit from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR). The planned investment was 250 million euros, but it has already risen to 390 million. The procedure for the public tendering of the contract and the rolling stock, which should be divided into three lotswas supposed to have been launched in the first half of this year (which ended in June); Duarte Cordeiro's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Action told Público that the project is "nearing completion" and that "the final details regarding project solutions, budget estimates and funding are being worked out"The public tender - which will be for design and construction - should be launched in September..
With the changes underway, the Violet Line will be 12 km long (instead of 13 km), with underground sections, others in trenches and the majority on the surface, as well as 17 stations (instead of 19); the project will boost, in addition to new mobility in the municipality of Odivelas and especially in Loures, various urban and road redevelopment projects, with improvements to pedestrian space and the creation of cycle paths, as we reported here.
The government and Metro de Lisboa have increasingly tight deadlines for the completion of the Violet Line. It's true that a light rail line, mostly on the surface, is quicker to build than an underground heavy rail line, but the creation of the Circular Line has experienced significant delays. The Violet Line will have to be completed by December 2026 at the risk of losing the PRR funding. In this race against the clock and with the adjustments made to the original route, the Metro could nevertheless save some money, either in the event of an increase in the cost of the work, or in the event of a delay and loss of funding. In other words: since the project as presented cost 390 million, this cost could be maintained by building one less kilometer and two fewer stations.
On the other hand, the extension of the Violet Line to Infantado could happen in a second phase, with another funding instrument. In other words, the plan now in place will be put on the back burner for a possible future. That future could be extension of the Violet Line to Vialonga, already in the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira. This proposal was put forward in a motion by the coalition New Generationled by the PSD, in the Vila Franca de Xira Municipal Assembly, a April 27th. The Social Democrats believe that the Purple Line should include "a connection to the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira, through the parish of Vialonga, thereby improving the mobility conditions of our municipality"not least because "the terminal station that is planned for the Violet Line is approximately six kilometers from Quintanilho, in the parish of Vialonga, and next to it is MARL, a very important economic hub for the two municipalities".
"It should also be noted that this same extension, if it were carried out to Cabo de Vialonga, parallel to the Variante, would only imply extending the original Violet Line project by nine kilometers, making it possible to serve the whole of this urban agglomeration, which, it should be remembered, is the only parish in our municipality that does not have direct access to rail transport."said the coalition New Generation, proposing that the Vila Franca de Xira City Council make "the necessary efforts with the competent authorities" for the integration of Vialonga into the project route.
The PSD motion was approved by a majority, with one abstention from independent MP Diana Neves. It received 19 votes in favor from the PS, eight from the CDU, four from the New Generation/PSD, two from Chega, two from BE, one from PAN and one from CDS.