The Portuguese railway system comprises a number of railway companies
(including one that was already state-owned) that amalgamated on 1st January
1947 to become Companhia dos Caninhoes de Ferro Portugueses, usually
referred to with just the initials CP.
The main constituents were:
- Administração Geral dos Caminhos de Ferro de
Estado (the State Railway Administration), which operated the 5' 6" gauge
lines south of the Tagus.
- Companhia do Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses (the Portuguese
Railway Company) which operated the 5' 6" gauge lines north and east of Lisbon,
including the state-owned Minho-Douro system in the north.
- Companhia do Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses de Beira Alta (the
Beira Alta Railway) which operated the line from Figueira da Foz via Pampilhosa
to the Spanish frontier.
- Companhia dos Caminhos de Ferro do Norte de Portugal (the
North of Portugal Railway), which operated metre-gauge lines from Oporto and
- Companhia Portugueza para a Construcção e
Exploração de Caminhos de Ferro (the Vale do Vouga Railway),
which operated metre-gauge lines connecting Espinho and Aveiro with Sernada abd
- Companhia Nacional de Caminhos de Ferro (the National
Railways), which worked state-owned metre-gauge lines between Santa Comba and
Vizeu, Tua and Braganca, Regua and Chaves, and Pocinho and Miranda. Some of
these lines had previously belonged to the Minho-Douro company.
Some railways were not part of the 1947 amalgamation:
- Sociedad de Estorial (the Estoril Railway), which operated a
5' 6" seaside and residential line between Lisbon and Cascais. This line was
electrified in 1926.
- The Lisbon Metro, a sub-surface electric railway opened in 1959, with
automatic two-aspect colour light signalling and train stops. The gauge of this
railway is (unique in Portugal) 4' 8½".
The first electrification of the CP system commenced operation in
The most typical type of mechanical signalling in Portugal were target
signals but at present there are no pictures of these available. Two-position
semaphore signalling was common, too, and at just one location three-position
signalling was provided.
Signalling on less important lines was often basic and simple, using a
sequential key interlocking system, and block working was by telephone.
Companhia dos Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses can be translated
into English as Portuguese Company of Ways of Iron.
Additional notes by
Hugo Leandro and Jean