Narrow gauge railways in Portugal

A Série 9020 diesel locomotive at Livração station on the Tâmega line
Sernada do Vouga railway station on the Vouga line
A Série 9100 diesel railcar at Amarante station on the Tâmega line in 2002
A Série 9600 narrow gauge diesel multiple unit train at Guimarães station in 1996. The line was electrified and rebuilt as a 1668 mm gauge railway between 2002 and 2004.

Portugal formerly had several hundred kilometres of narrow gauge railways, but by 2010 only two lines were still in operation - the Vouga line and the Metro de Mirandela. The lines were operated by Comboios de Portugal and maintained by REFER (or the predecessor CP).


The majority of railway lines in Portugal were built to 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in) Iberian gauge. To reduce construction costs, some lines (notably in rural and mountainous parts of the country) were built to narrow gauge. Portugal's narrow gauge railways were largely built to metre gauge. The lines were mostly constructed from the 1880s onwards, with the final line not completed until as late as 1949.[1] The first major wave of closures took place in the 1980s, notably the Sabor line and the Dão line. The northern extremities of the Corgo, Tâmega and Tua lines (all running north from main Douro line through the Douro Valley) were closed in 1990/1, with the rest of these lines closing in 2008/9.

Operational lines

Closed lines or converted to broad gauge

Closed in the 20th Century

Closed in the 21st Century

Converted to broad gauge

Converted to standard gauge (metro)

Rolling stock

The narrow gauge lines were steam-operated for much of their existence. Diesel railcars were introduced as an economy measure in the 1940s, notably the Série 9100 built in Sweden for the Tâmega line in 1949 and the Dutch-built Série 9300 railcars used on several other lines from the early 1950s onwards. The Série 9700 diesel multiple units were purchased secondhand from the Yugoslav Railways in 1980, but frequently proved unreliable.

Metre gauge diesel locomotives were built to replace steam haulage, especially on freight or mixed trains, notably the Série 9020 built in 1976. Steam remained in use on some lines until the 1980s.


The tram system in Lisbon, operated by Carris, is also narrow gauge - with a 900 mm (2 ft 11 716 in) track gauge.

See also




  • Allen, Peter Christopher; Wheeler, Robert Alfred (1960). Steam on the Sierra. The narrow gauge in Spain and Portugal. London: Cleaver-Hulme Press. OCLC 757916369. 
  • Davies, W.J.K. (1998). Narrow Gauge Railways of Portugal. East Harling, Norfolk, UK: Plateway Press. ISBN 1871980356. 
  • Maristany, Manolo; Ward de Domenech, Judith; Rico, Francesc (1974). Carrilets de España y Portugal [Narrow Gauge of Spain and Portugal]. Barcelona: J.M. Casdemont. ISBN 8440011776.  (Spanish) (English) (French)
  • Organ, John (2010). Portugal Narrow Gauge: From Porto to Pomerao. Narrow Gauge Branch Lines series. Midhurst, West Sussex, UK: Middleton Press. ISBN 9781906008673. 
  • Winkworth, D.W. (2006). Portuguese Narrow Gauge Railways: Railway Holiday in Portugal. Clophill, Bedfordshire, UK: Irwell Press. ISBN 1903266629. 

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