Thursday, October 8, 2015

Service Change: Portugal, Part 11 - Porto Metro, Lines E and F (plus a funicular!)

Although the independent section of Line E is incredibly short, it's still important, as this line serves Porto's airport. The line splits off from Line B at Verdes Station, which was an interesting one due to its stacked design. Line B had side platforms, while Line E had depressed platforms in the center, since it went underground just past this station.

You can see the Line B platforms rising up on either side.
The view of Maia from the station.
The shelter on one of the platforms.
The train coming in.
As I mentioned, the line went underground past Verdes. We made a turn in the tunnel and surfaced in the median of Av. de Aeroporto. After a stop at Botica (where the surroundings were mostly industrial), we entered another tunnel, curved north, and surfaced at Aeroporto Station, the last stop. Told you the ride was short.

Lots of people getting out of the train.
The train waiting for everyone to get out.
The grassy tracks leading back toward Porto.
Aeroporto was a very nice station, with a big glass shelter. 
The entrance from inside.
A big sign for the airport.
And here's the train again, back at Ponte de Cuco.
The F is the only line that goes eastward beyond Estadio do Dragao, and when we rode it, it didn't even get the dignity of having its own letter - they were just through-running every other Line A train to Line F's terminus. My camera was out of battery by this point of the adventure, so this will be purely text. Sorry, Line F...

Leaving Estadio do Dragao, we paralleled a suburban rail line, rising up to an elevated station at Contumil. We then turned onto the median of an unnamed street which went past...nothing much, really. We went below a rotary, then into a tunnel.

We surfaced at Levada Station, which was close to a huge shopping mall. Running in our own right-of-way from there, we twisted through areas of various density (there was even some farmland). After Baguim, we went under another rotary and surfaced in the median of another unnamed street. We went through a town with some apartments, but the next and last stop, Fanzeres, had a rural feel to it. However, it also had a parking lot with free parking for Metro users!

And here's a bonus - the funicular!
There's one more thing that's technically part of the Porto Metro system, and that's the funicular. It uses the same fare system, but for some reason the funicular costs double. I have no idea why, since it's a pretty short ride, but it does save a long walk up steep steps.

The ticket booth.
We didn't have Andante Cards yet when we rode the funicular, so we got these special tickets.
This sign showed how many more people could enter. The cap was 25.
Now, the funicular could be a great link between the bustling riverside and the city up a hill, but the problem is the wait. The way funiculars work is with a weight-counterweight system, and usually the counterweight is a second vehicle - here, however, it's literally just a counterweight. And with a limit of 25 people in a vehicle, you could end up waiting 20 minutes just for a 3 minute ride.

The funicular coming down the hill.
That one was too busy for us, so we had to wait for the next one.
The funicular is articulated, since it's not at the same slope the whole time.
Stupid counterweight...
As for the inside of the funicular, there wasn't much to talk about. It was small, clean, and it got the job done. There were a few benches, and of course a big window, since the view going up the hill was fantastic.

The Luis I Bridge.
The bridge again, but from higher up.
Looking down the hill.
And the bridge again.
Looking across the river.
The inside of the funicular.
Soon after passing the counterweight, the funicular went underground. It was in tunnel for a while until we arrived at Batalha, the underground northern terminus. It was a clean station with a nice entrance - I do wish the signage to Sao Bento from there was better, though. Overall, the funicular is pretty cool if you're a tourist, but if you're trying to get somewhere quickly, it's meh. You're probably better off walking if you can handle the hills.

Heading underground.
Looking down the tunnel.
The station.
And the entrance.

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