Super Alfa Pendular

 

Following a previous article on transport from Lisbon Airport I left the city on board CP’s (Portugal’s national rail company) premier service, the Alfa Pendular, down to the south coast of Portugal.

Lisbon Oriente Station

Oriente station must have been designed for Instagram: every angle looks photogenic and – on a sunny day – the station is bright, airy and calm.

We didn’t have too much trouble finding the platform but seemed to become a stand-in station assistant while we were waiting for our train: many, many passengers came up to us to ask if this was the correct platform for various towns that we didn’t know of. After some confused conversations we realised that the main train from the south of Portugal, journeying north, passes through the station at just about the same time as the main train travelling from the north of Portugal, travelling south, does. So lots of passengers were anxiously looking for the Alfa service when there were two calling at the same time. Passengers were not at all helped by the departure boards saying only the name of the terminus station for the service – in our case, Faro.

Due to the blinding glare on all the station’s signs, we never realised that the intermediate stations were listed on a little screens. I only realised this when I was editing photos later. Helpful!

On The Train

When we did get on board, we were thankful for the window shades and the large seats. We had a tour of Lisbon’s train graveyard before we zipped off into the countryside. I’d say the train was high speed for about an hour before it slowed right down for the remaining 2 hours of the journey.

When I had bought my ticket online I was able to get a cheap First Class ticket that included the option to purchase dinner in advance. Based on previous experience, as a vegetarian I knew this would be risky. I’m glad I didn’t as it seemed that some passengers didn’t get their food for hours after the train had left Lisbon. It seemed that most other passenger come prepared for the journey, the group next to us unloaded a full picnic on the table minutes after boarding.

Arriving at Loule station in the late evening, I was surprised that there was absolutely nothing at the station. For a station call on the flagship rail service, I’d have expected a station concourse at least. We were signed posted to leave the station by little gate around the back of the ticket office into the deserted street. I was glad I’d booked a taxi in advance!

Author: Liam Henderson