Comboios de Portugal (CP) is Portugal’s train operator and one of the largest public transport operators in the country.
Types and classes
There are basically four types of trains in Portugal
- Urbano – modern suburban trains available in Greater Porto/Northern Portugal, Coimbra area and Greater Lisbon. Stop in all stops and are intented for daily commute. From Porto you can reach Braga, Guimarães and Aveiro using this trains. From Lisbon you can reach Cascais, Sintra and Setubal.
- Regional – slow trains, stop everywhere.
- Intercities – Fast, express trains. Stops only at main cities. Include bar. Porto – Lisbon in about 3h.
- Alfa-Pendular – Similar to ICE trains in Germany is a fast deluxe service. Stops fewer than Intercities and comfort levels are higher. Porto – Lisbon 2h30.
Intercities and Alfa-Pendular offer first and second class seats while Urbano and regional trains consist of a single class.
Train accessibility depends very much on the type of train and the station. Main stations in the big cities (Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Braga, etc) provide visual and voice information although only in Portuguese. To make matters worse, voice information is usually not sufficiently clear, even for native speakers. Clear visual and voice information is available inside Urbano, Intercities and Alfa-Pendulares trains. None of this information is usually available inside Regional trains.
Wheelchair accessibility can be a nightmare. New stations like Lisboa – Oriente or Porto – Campanhã are wheelchair friendly and provide, for instance, wheelchair ramps. Older stations, even important ones, like Porto – São Bento don’t always have the necessary facilities to allow for equality of access.
As for trains, Alfa-Pendular trains as well as suburban trains in Lisbon and Porto meet all the accessibility requirements for wheelchairs from lower floors to ramps and designated places. Intercity and regional trains don’t usually have any of those but facilities at stations may help make reduce mobility passenger lives easier.
CP, however, is making an effort to help mitigate passenger accessibility problems. To this effect it created a hot line (808 208 746) which passengers can use to obtain accessibility information for trains and stations and to find suitable alternatives.
CP website has a friendly interface, is available in Portuguese and English and contains all necessary information about trains, stations and tickets. Website navigation is relatively smooth and you can find what you look for in a few clicks.
Entering and exiting the vehicle
You always need to press the door button or to turn a handle to open doors
Tickets can be bought at all train stations. Although in some stations, ticket offices are not always open, they open some time before each train arrives. Tickets can also be bought at ticket vending machines located in every station. Andante tickets in Porto and Lisboa Viva tickets in Lisbon are also valid for the respective suburban trains.
Finally, intercity and Alfa Pendulares tickets can also be bought online (seat selection available). Note that Intercities and Alfa Pendular tickets are only valid for the trip you bought them for. If you wish to anticipate or postpone your journey, go to a ticket office to change your ticket for the new train date and time. This is done free of charge. In theory, if you buy your ticket online, you don’t need to print it since it is associated with your ID number and is enough to show your ID-card to the ticket inspector. However, in case you need to make any change to your ticket you will need to have a print out, so we advise you, if possible, to always print your ticket.
CP staff inside and outside the train are friendly and willing to help. At main stations in Coimbra, Lisbon, Porto, Faro and others you can expect a reasonably high level of English and even French or Spanish.
Comfort and punctuality
Urban trains and Alfa-Pendular are relatively new and comfortable and compare well with the best European trains. Intercities trains are slightly older, but have been refurbished and provide a good level of comfort, including air conditioner and comfortable seats. Regional trains are older and harder to evaluate as comfort level is very dependent on the type of vehicle and route, however, expect a basic to low comfort level.
Trains usually run on time, the exception being again the regional trains where older train compositions are less reliable. In recent years, however, and mainly due to Portugal’s current economic situation, CP services have been affected by constant strikes, mainly on weekends and holidays. We advise you to call CP hot lines or ask at ticket offices if there are any strikes planned for the day you wish to travel.
One bike per passenger is allowed free of charge in all urban trains as long as the bikes travel in the designated carriages. One bike per passenger is also allowed free of charge on regional trains with exception of Minho and Douro regional trains routes. For regional trains, however, transporting bicycles is dependent on the type of vehicle and the space available. You should, therefore, inform the ticket office or the Station Officer of your intent so that they can evaluate if it is possible or not to transport your bike.