Comboios de Portugal (CP) is going through a major labour force shortage with malfunctioning railway equipment, making clients' complaints intensify. Managers are ready to leave the company.
The board of directors of the railway company will be replaced by a new team. Carlos Nogueira, Abrantes Machado and Ana Malhó are currently the ones standing as CP’s main managers.
Ministry of Planning and Infrastructures is already lining up a new list of directors for the company. An official source in CP, when contacted by Público’s reporters, affirmed there wasn’t any confirmation that there would in effect be a change in the board. Pedro Marques, Portuguese ministry for Planning and Infrastructures, also did not want to comment on the matter.
CP’s CEO, Carlos Nogueira, was appointed around a year ago — in July of 2017 — and his plan was to invest far more on the acquisition of new trains, given the deregulation of rail services in sight for 2019. Long distance trips would as well suffer an increase in demand, which reinforced the need for further investment in the Portuguese train fleet.
However, achieving these goals proved to be a difficult task for the railway with no timely measures being taken.
Countless strikes have been organized over the past year, with the next one being scheduled for the 3rd of October. Controversies regarding the company’s dire functioning have hit all major newspapers in the country over the last few weeks. The complaints concerned the service thinning-out, the limiting of seat numbers as the heat wave hit the country ( extreme malfunctioning of the AC, made passengers suffer exposed to high temperatures on board CP trains).
CP is not complying with its duties, in regards to what it means to be a public service provider. If the maintenance of the company’s assets is being disposed of, we are certainly facing a bankruptcy.
The administration decided to unfreeze a set of new hires that were pending for the maintenance of the railways unit, aiming at speeding up the solution to these technical issues that are hitting the company’s reputation.
Opposition leaders have shown great criticism: Carlos Silva, PSD’s MP, claimed that “CP is not complying with its duties, in regards to what it means to be a public service provider. If the maintenance of the company’s assets is being disposed of, we are certainly facing a bankruptcy of CP.”
CP has claimed that the company is facing issues because of the improper collection of the profits from tickets sales, especially during days of high affluence of customers. During those days, the company has announced that it witnessed an increase of free-riding, as people enter the trains without confirming if there are any seats available and especially without having purchased any ticket for the train ride.
The situation is particularly alarming in the company’s intercity services, regarding the charging of tickets on board. Many stations do not have, in the route between Lisbon and Faro, any official ticket office or ticket machine.