Questions about Railways in Portugal

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superalbs

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Hello,

I am soon travelling to Portugal, and plan to avail of the interesting looking railway system there.

Doing some research, me and my friend have discovered the Portugal Rail Pass, offered by the main national passenger operator CP (Comboios de Portugal). This seems to offer great value, at just €129 for a week's unlimited travel in Second Class, however I am confused as to how this ticket is used.

Here is a link to the page for the ticket:

I note that it states:
Before each journey, you have to ask get your ticket from a ticket office or, exceptionally, from the ticket inspector on the train by presenting your card.

I don't fully understand what this means. Does this refer to the use of Alfa Pendular and Intercidades trains, where presumably one must acquire a reservation prior to travel, or does this also include the Regional and Urban trains? If so, can this be done online? If not, are queues at ticket offices a problem, and can you make all of your bookings at once?

All assistance is much appreciated.

I am also interested in recommendations for traction and routes that I should take a look at. I know the Douro Valley line with the EE 1400s is an absolute must, but other than that I am a bit in the dark. Whilst I've always been passively interested in Portugal, I have never really paid much attention to the scene there, so any suggestions will be taken on-board. Thanks!
 
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Julian G

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This thread is worth a read
 

30907

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Hello,

I am soon travelling to Portugal, and plan to avail of the interesting looking railway system there.

Doing some research, me and my friend have discovered the Portugal Rail Pass, offered by the main national passenger operator CP (Comboios de Portugal). This seems to offer great value, at just €129 for a week's unlimited travel in Second Class, however I am confused as to how this ticket is used.

Here is a link to the page for the ticket:

I note that it states:


I don't fully understand what this means. Does this refer to the use of Alfa Pendular and Intercidades trains, where presumably one must acquire a reservation prior to travel, or does this also include the Regional and Urban trains? If so, can this be done online? If not, are queues at ticket offices a problem, and can you make all of your bookings at once?

It specifically doesn't include Urban trains, don't know about Regional. I wonder if @Giugiaro could answer this one?
 

Giugiaro

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@superalbs Let me get you some help explaining the details:
  1. This card is personal and inalienable and can only be bought by people who do not live in Portugal.
  2. The card provides unlimited travel for three or seven days in a month on all Alfa Pendular, Intercidades, Regional/InterRegional and Urban trains.
  3. The Portugal Rail Pass card includes a Viva Viagem card so you can travel on the Lisbon urban trains.
  4. Before each journey, you have to ask get your ticket from a ticket office or, exceptionally, from the ticket inspector on the train by presenting your card.
  5. If you want to travel on the Lisbon urban trains, you do not need to get a ticket, but you have to validate the Viva Viagem card at a card reader.
  6. On board the trains you have to show the ticket inspector your Portugal Rail Pass (with the dates completed) and the respective receipt along with a ticket for the train you are travelling on.
  7. The Portugal Rail Pass cannot be refunded or reissued neither the individual journeys that it gives you the right to.
  8. The card is valid for a month as of the purchase date, which is completed by the CP ticket offices that sell these cards.
1. The card is only available for people living outside of Portugal and it'll be identified with the details of the person who purchased it, like an Oyster Photocard, so it can't be traded with someone else.
2. After the card is activated to travel in the first day, you'll have 2 or 6 more days to travel over a period of 30 days. A day is credited from the card every day you travel by train, so if you travel on the train on the June 7th and then June 11th, it'll take 2 of the 3/7 days available. It can be used for all CP services, excluding the Internationals like the Sud Express, Lusitania and Celta (but includes the Raiano).
3. The Pass has a Viva Viagem protocol card allowing you to travel on CP urban trains in the Lisbon Metro Area. You use the card as an Oyster by tapping in at the railway station.
4. On all other services you need to request a paper ticket at the ticket office before boarding. If no ticket office is available at the station, you go straight to the ticket inspector inside the train to request it.
5. As I said in 3, the pass has as a Viva Viagem card.
6. When travelling, you need to have these things: The Rail Pass, the receipt of the pass and the paper ticket for that train. The Rail Pass will have an indication that is has been activated to travel on that day.
7. I think it is self explanatory.
8. The card is valid for 30 days after the purchase date. If you purchase the ticket online, you'll get a voucher that acts as the receipt and it'll allow you to get the actual card when arriving at Portugal. The 30 days count when you exchange the voucher for the Rail Pass.

The Viva Viagem card can be further used after the Rail Pass has expired. During the 30 day Rail Pass period, you should not attempt to add journeys to that particular Viva Viagem card.
 

superalbs

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@superalbs Let me get you some help explaining the details:

1. The card is only available for people living outside of Portugal and it'll be identified with the details of the person who purchased it, like an Oyster Photocard, so it can't be traded with someone else.
2. After the card is activated to travel in the first day, you'll have 2 or 6 more days to travel over a period of 30 days. A day is credited from the card every day you travel by train, so if you travel on the train on the June 7th and then June 11th, it'll take 2 of the 3/7 days available. It can be used for all CP services, excluding the Internationals like the Sud Express, Lusitania and Celta (but includes the Raiano).
3. The Pass has a Viva Viagem protocol card allowing you to travel on CP urban trains in the Lisbon Metro Area. You use the card as an Oyster by tapping in at the railway station.
4. On all other services you need to request a paper ticket at the ticket office before boarding. If no ticket office is available at the station, you go straight to the ticket inspector inside the train to request it.
5. As I said in 3, the pass has as a Viva Viagem card.
6. When travelling, you need to have these things: The Rail Pass, the receipt of the pass and the paper ticket for that train. The Rail Pass will have an indication that is has been activated to travel on that day.
7. I think it is self explanatory.
8. The card is valid for 30 days after the purchase date. If you purchase the ticket online, you'll get a voucher that acts as the receipt and it'll allow you to get the actual card when arriving at Portugal. The 30 days count when you exchange the voucher for the Rail Pass.

The Viva Viagem card can be further used after the Rail Pass has expired. During the 30 day Rail Pass period, you should not attempt to add journeys to that particular Viva Viagem card.
Would you say that it is worth doing the pass, or just getting individual tickets?

Plus, would getting the pass ticket be easy from a ticket office, or is it a slow process? Also can I get these tickets from the website, or is it only at ticket office? Thanks.
 

Giugiaro

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Would you say that it is worth doing the pass, or just getting individual tickets?
It depends on how you're planning your visit and how many times you'll be relying on the train to travel around.
CP has several discounts that could make the Rail Pass rather pointless if you don't travel so much and buy the tickets well in advance.
60 days from the journey date you'll find 60% off tickets for those who pay in advance for InterCity and Alfa. Sometimes they offer 5€ from Lisbon <-> Porto from Tuesday to Thursday.
Porto and Lisbon have 24 hour and 7 day local passes at very competitive prices, including options for all modes of transport (on Porto you'll definitively will want to get the Andante Tour card).

Though the Rail Pass gives you the flexibility the individual tickets won't get you.

Plus, would getting the pass ticket be easy from a ticket office, or is it a slow process?
It'll depend on the time of the day and day of the month. Around the start of the month plenty of people will be making queues for their seasonal passes.
Anyway, it won't matter much because:

Also can I get these tickets from the website, or is it only at ticket office? Thanks.
Yes, but it'll be a voucher that you'll have to exchange for the pass once you arrive at Portugal.
So you'll end up having to go to the ticket office anyway, but you will only have to take care of paperwork if you buy the voucher online, at the end of this page.
 

30907

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Yes, but it'll be a voucher that you'll have to exchange for the pass once you arrive at Portugal.
So you'll end up having to go to the ticket office anyway, but you will only have to take care of paperwork if you buy the voucher online, at the end of this page.
I think the OP was referring to the individual journey tickets not the pass. You have to go to the ticket office for those. I don't think that will be a problem
(OT: I did spend some time at Lisbon SA one Saturday morning trying to buy a combi ticket for Sintra - they obviously don't sell many there - but there were enough other windows open...)
 

Giugiaro

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The individual tickets CAN be bought online. So much so that students and young workers scramble at midnight to get the 60% off advance tickets, so they can spend the weekends with their families back at home.
 

superalbs

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The individual tickets CAN be bought online. So much so that students and young workers scramble at midnight to get the 60% off advance tickets, so they can spend the weekends with their families back at home.
But not the free tickets with the Portugal Rail Pass, I presume they cannot be obtained online?

There may be some useful information here, my default site for overseas rail travel written by someone who knows international railways inside out:-

www.seat61.com
I had a quick scan for information on the pass, but no luck. Will deffo give his page another read for general information!
 

dutchflyer

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As it includes an Oystertype card, it should be obvious that no online printing is possible and some form of collection before travel is needed
The card/formula as such is quite new -the long standing alternative would be the Interrail 1 country pass for a flexible nr of days in 1 the month. IR has a major hassle for using the gate controlled chipcard VIVAVGm systems around Lisboa/suburban.
It would appear to me you are young-but note that seniors from 65+ can get an automatic 50% reduction off full fare-only ID needed, not further railcard.
There is 1 line not straight belonging to CP-the Transtejo over the bridge suburban line from Lisboa southward. However, CP also has its own IC trains running over it.
 

superalbs

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Thanks for all the information everyone.

Still making my plan, before deciding what ticket type to get.

Which services do the 'broken-nose' locos work on the Minho line? Perhaps @Giugiaro might know?

Thanks.
 

davetheguard

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The EMU operated service west from Lisbon to the seaside resorts of Estoril & Cascais is worth a trip for the sea views & runs frequently.

Another electric Lisbon suburban service runs from Rossio terminus to the beautiful town of Sintra. From there, an old school roadside tramway runs a few miles to its seaside terminus: Praia das Macas, Apple Beach in English. If you go to Sintra, turn left out of the railway station for the town centre; turn right out of the station for a few minutes' walk to the start of the tram line.
 

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BahrainLad

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The EMU operated service west from Lisbon to the seaside resorts of Estoril & Cascais is worth a trip for the sea views & runs frequently.

Another electric Lisbon suburban service runs from Rossio terminus to the beautiful town of Sintra. From there, an old school roadside tramway runs a few miles to its seaside terminus: Praia das Macas, Apple Beach in English. If you go to Sintra, turn left out of the railway station for the town centre; turn right out of the station for a few minutes' walk to the start of the tram line.

When I was a child we lived in Cascais for several years (1987ish) and used to visit 'Praia da Adraga' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praia_da_Adraga, one of the finest beaches in Europe) regularly wich is just south of Macas...driving around, I was always fascinated by the disused tram lines along parts of the road. It's great that it's been brought back into service.
 
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