INFRASTRUCTURE Portugal (IP) has signed a €20.45m contract with the Sacyr Neopul-Sacyr Somague consortium to complete the electrification of the 56km Faro - Vila Real de Santo António section of the 140km Algarve Line in southern Portugal.

The project includes the installation of new signalling and telecommunications systems along the line, as well as audio information systems and improved lighting at the stations.

Electrification of the line will reduce travel times between Lagos and Vila Real de Santo António by 25 minutes. The 40km Tunes - Faro section of the route has already been electrified to enable electric services to run through to Lisbon, while a second contract is due to be awarded to electrify the Tunes - Lagos section. Full electrification of the Algarve Line was previously due to be completed by the end of 2020.

The contract was signed at a ceremony at Vila Real de Santo António station, which was attended by the minister for infrastructure and housing, Mr Pedro Nuno Santos, the mayor of Vila Real de Santo António, Mr Álvaro Araújo, IP chairman of the board, Mr António Laranjo, IP deputy chairman, Mr Carlos Fernandes, and consortium administrator, Mr Marcos Rubio Blanco.

The overall electrification of the Algarve Line, which is included in the Ferrovia 2020 national rail plan and is part funded by the European Union, is expected to cost €80m and also includes the construction of a traction substation in Olhão and the expansion of a traction substation in Tunes.