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The return of Lisboa tramline 24

Carris two-axle remodeladas tram 574 carries the ‘driver training’ notice in its windscreen as it waits during a crew break on line 24 on 17 April. Image credit: J. Barata

Services have restarted on Lisboa tram line 24, which linked Cais do Sodré and Campolide and last ran in August 1995. It was then the latest symbol of the decline in the Portuguese city’s tramway system, removing a service that started in 1905 (then Rossio – Campolide).

Ostensibly the service was suspended to permit construction of a car park underneath Praça do Campolide, but as the years went by, and track along the route was removed during roadworks, local people despaired that their trams would never return. In 2017 one of two bus lines serving the area was removed, creating further difficulty. But 2017 also saw the transfer of tram and bus operator Carris from the state to the city council, a body with effective passenger transport as one of its priorities. What followed was talk of new trams and extensions to the much-depleted tramway – and the return of line 24.

Work soon began to rehabilitate the tracks and make sure the overhead was in good order. Finally, on the night of 10-11 April Carris track scrubber Z-1 was seen putting the final touches to the refurbished tracks, and driver training started on the partly steeply-graded route where motormen had to re-familiarise themselves with the technique of taking a two-axle remodeladas to and from Campolide. It was thought that passenger service would start in May, though perhaps not along the whole line.

The re-opening was brought forward and on 24 April route 24 started carrying passengers again on the 4km (2.5-mile) between Praça Luis de Camões and Campolide. The Mayor, Fernando Medina, turned up at 09.30 to take a ride on 574, declaring: “23 years after suppressing one of Lisboa’s favourite rides, 24 returns to the city and to celebrate on 24 and 25 April the trip on the tram is free for everyone”.

Service is provided seven days a week: Monday-Friday 07.00-20.30, Saturdays 07.30-19.40 and Sundays 10.30-18.30. The line serves the upper terminus of the Elevador de Gloria funicular, offering the opportunity of an interesting round trip.

When new trams arrive there should be enough rolling stock to permit line 24 to be extended further into the city.