CP's bad service in the most touristic region of Portugal or the real report of an unreal trip

5 June has been, since 1973, World Environment Day. Every year, the ephemeris is evoked by several […]

Passengers sitting, waiting and despairing, at Cacela station

5 June has been, since 1973, World Environment Day. Every year, the ephemeris is evoked in different ways, but not in the TV news, with news about pollution, the ecological footprint and almost always about the use of public transport/individual car.

In fact, the Algarve, or rather the Algarve, has even been in the news more often, for not using public transport, with the perplexity characteristic of the authors of these works, or even those who report them, always external to the regional reality.

The story that I narrate below took place yesterday, on the 5th of June, and had the railway transport as a panorama.

At about 16:30 pm, I arrived at Cacela station, where I intended to take the train from 16:49 pm to Faro, with connection to Intercidades, which would have as its last stop Lisbon-Gare do Oriente, providing service in several intermediate stations. It's important to say that I don't use the train very often in Sotavento and, despite knowing that the station building was closed some years ago, I went to it.

I immediately noticed changes in the station, namely in the platforms that were raised, as well as the installation of a vast railing that separates the platform from the station building, which unjustifiably impedes access to the latter.

As I arrived early, this did not cause me any embarrassment, I just had to go back in order to access the departure pier. But if it was just before the departure time, he would certainly say goodbye to the train.

The endless grid that divides the station from the platform

On the other side of the platform, a question immediately came to me: which would be the line on which the train would stop, 1 or 2? The rails on 1 were shinier and the track ballast impregnated in oil, contrary to what happened on line 2. Well it must be on 1, I intuited.

A few moments later, other passengers arrived, five adults and four children, who remained next to line 1. I was right, that was the line! There we waited for the composition, which would take me to Faro. But… 16:50 pm, 17:00 pm and no train…

We looked at each other, at the clock, at the line and nothing... 17:05 pm, I get the first contact with the CP helpline, as there is no sound system to alert passengers at the station, or intercom, contrary to what happens in Messines-Alte, for example.

I was informed that the call will be recorded, but if I do not accept, I must contact a ticket office (or something similar), as well as that I have ticket offices available on the internet, and an email, which I can use...

Afterwards, I was informed that the predictable time for said call to be answered was 6 minutes. As each minute costs €0,25, I quickly hung up, waiting. I then try to call the station in Vila Real de Santo António directly, but on the internet only the same helpline number, with the exception of Tavira, as the City Council provides the station's fixed number on its website.

I make contact with Tavira, but (there is always a but…) no one answers. I insist again and again, but nothing.

Two lines in Cacela and train from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António

And here is a train approaching…but it goes in the opposite direction, to Vila Real, but I still rush to the inspector, who informs me and those present that the train connecting Intercidades had been suppressed.

For reasons of the strike? asked another passenger. To which the reviewer replied: no, the strike was yesterday…

I asked him if Intercidades would wait for the next composition departing from Cacela, at 18:17 pm, to Faro. He told me not in principle, but he didn't know.

At 17:33 pm, I make new contact with the Helpline, and luckily, the call would be answered within a minute. I reported the situation and you, on the other side, confirmed to me that the 16:49 pm train had been suppressed, but as for Intercidades and asked the question several times, I was reassured: as it was the last train to Lisbon, Intercidades would wait the composition from Vila Real de Santo António. However, the station was deserted, I was the only one there... and the birds...

At 18:17 pm, the train enters Cacela and we depart for Faro to the table. I soon asked the reviewer if Intercidades was waiting. Hardly was the answer. I told her the certainty of my colleague from the Helpline and we continued our journey.

At Fuzeta-A, some passengers were already commenting on the constraints of the suppression of the previous train, the attempt to contact Fuzeta, which was also closed, and finally the Support Line.

On the left, the train to Lagos. On the right, the train that came from Vila Real de Santo António

Em Faro, I hurried down and ran to the platform, to enter the Intercidades. But…no train, or rather there was one there, but it was going to Lagos.

At 19:12 pm, Intercidades was already beeping towards Amoreiras-Gare (in Odemira), and I had just joined Faro.

I ran to the ticket offices, waited my turn and asked the employee: where was Intercidades? Astonished, she informed me that she had left for Lisbon at the usual time…

Why didn't you wait for the call from Vila Real? I retorted. She replied, surprised, that this train had been suppressed and the other had left! To calm me down, two possibilities were presented: give me back the money for the ticket or revalidate it for the next day.

I replied that the station in Cacela was closed, so I didn't have a ticket. I noticed that, on the Helpline, they had assured me that the train would wait, to which the ticket clerk replied: it's a call center service, you don't know.

I asked you for responsibilities. She replied that they weren't hers, I retorted that neither were mine, to conclude: they don't belong to anyone…or rather, my problem!

Foreigners joining the train to Lagos

With some frequency, the degradation of the rail service in the Algarve region is commented, despite the good intentions of the local authorities. The suppression of a regional train, despite all the inconveniences it entails, can be replaced by the next one or two hours later, but a connection to Intercidades and Lisbon cannot. But CP doesn't want to know that.

I spent €1,25 + VAT on phone calls to the Support Line, which only has a name for support, because, in fact, I was tricked by a service that didn't exist and cheated by another one that exists to rob unsuspecting passengers. venture to travel by train in the most touristic region of Portugal.

Of course I complained, because not complaining doesn't solve anything. For those of us who don't listen to us, I'm waiting to be compensated for the theft that constitutes the Customer Support Line. After all, in order to «guarantee the quality of the service», the call had even been recorded.

As for the trip, CP was lucky! It's just that I went to Messines, because if I went to Lisbon, I would stop at Faro, and I have a hunch that he was going to demand food, hotel and compensation.

So, there I went to Tunis, in a very dirty composition, with beautiful graffiti, accompanied by dozens of unwary passengers, who, moments before, got off at the Airport of Faro, as their luggage denounced, gaping at a 4th world service.

And they can't imagine what awaits them on the Portuguese railways… But somewhere in Lisbon, someone rubs their hands with the Piggy bank of Linha de Robo to the customer. It's just that, if the Portuguese fall into the fray, the foreigners then…

At the end of the trip, all I thought was: why don't people in the Algarve take public transport? It's just that, honestly, I can't explain why...

But I'm sure of one thing: traveling by train with just a magic ball, to guess. The worst must be finding them, but in this the Customer Support Line must know how to help...


Author Aurélio Nuno Cabrita is an environmental engineer and researcher of local and regional history, as well as a regular collaborator of the Sul Informação