REFER, Rede Ferroviária Nacional, EP (i.e. National Railway Network) is the Portuguese rail infrastructure manager. It is a state-owned company and was created to manage the Portuguese rail infrastructure, previously under control of CP, which became exclusively a train service operator.
Rede Ferroviária Nacional, EP, is the manager of the national railway network in Portugal. It is 100% owned by the Portuguese state.
It was incorporated on 29 April 1997 by government decree no. 104/97.
The Portuguese railway network consists (2010) of 2,843 km of track:
- 1,668 mm gauge: 2,650 km, of which 1,460 km are electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz AC and 25 km at 1.5 kV DC. Of this, 563 km are double track and 43 km multiple track
- Metre gauge (1,000 mm, 3 ft 3⅜ in): 188 km not electrified.
- The maximum extent of 3592 km was reached in 1949, but in the late 1980s and early 1990s some lines were shortened and some totally closed.
The first railway in Portugal was between Lisbon and Carregado, now referred to as the Linha do Norte; it opened on 28 October 1856. It was extended to Porto, joining Portugal's two largest cities, in 1877.
Meanwhile on 1 February 1861 the lines between Barreiro Pinhal Novo and Vendas Novas (the Linha do Alentejo) and between Pinhal Novo and Setúbal (the Linha do Sul) followed.
The Linha do Sul, at 274 km was the principal main line in the south of the country, but it terminated short of Lisbon on the south side of the river Tagus (Tejo in Portuguese) but it received a considerable improvement when it was extended from Pinhal Novo to Lisbon over the Ponte 25 de Abril, which was provided with an additional railway deck.
The earliest railways in Portugal were built to standard gauge (1,435 mm) but were regauged in the nineteenth century for compatibility with the trains of the railways of Spain, which at that time used a track gauge of 1,668 mm.
First electrification in Portugal was the suburban line from Lisbon to Cascais, at 1,500 V d.c., but it was another 30 years before the next electrification, the Norte line between Lisbon and Carregado, on 28 October 1956, exactly 100 years from the line's opening. This electrification was at 25 kV 50 Hz.
Through routes to Spain are single-track and are not completely electrified.
A number of new high speed lines are planned, and these are to be built in standard gauge; at 2010 these were:
- Lisbon - Évora - Elvás - Badajoz (Spain), forming a through route to Madrid; anticipated completion 2013
- Porto - Valença do Minho - Vigo (Spain), completion 2015
- Lisbon - Aveiro - Porto, completion 2017
- Aveiro - Salamanca (Spain), not yet programmed
- Évora - Fajo - Huelva (Spain), not yet programmed
- Karl Arne Richter (editor), Europäische Bahnen '11, Eurailpress, Hamburg, 2010, ISBN 978-3-7771-0413-3