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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020
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15 years after they started building it, the tram in Salvador opened yesterday and we were on board

TheScore.ie’s man in Brazil had a farmer’s tan and a ticket to ride yesterday.

ANYONE FRUSTRATED WITH the slow pace at which Dublin’s two Luas lines are being connected, or irritated that the long-talked about rail line to Dublin airport has never materialised, need to spare a thought for the residents of Salvador.

On Wednesday, 11 June, — that’s yesterday — on the eve of the World Cup’s kick-off, the metro in Brazil’s third largest city finally opened to the public — 15 years after work on it began.

Little wonder people were wandering goggle-eyed around the Campo da Polvora station, which is adjacent to the Arena Fonte Nova. One man gave the wall of hewn rock a curious slap, others took pictures of each other on the platform while security guards with truncheons had a stern word for anyone standing the wrong side of the yellow line.

It was a crowd of rubberneckers rather than commuters, which is just as well because for the time being the metro is only running between four stops to the north of the city’s centre from noon until 4pm.

photo 3 Source: Mikey Stafford/TheScore.ie

photo 2

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However, contrary to what thescore.ie was told in the tourist office earlier in the week, the metro is open to everyone and, what’s more, for the first month it is completely free. On Salvador’s six World Cup match days however its use will be limited to stadium-goers.

It is the least the population could ask for, having stared at their “seven kilometres of shame” for the past decade and a half. The locals blame mismanagement and corruption for the massive delay, with the track, stations and trains all delivered years ago, the government ran out of money before the crucial telecommunications work could be done.

photo 1 Source: Mikey Stafford/TheScore.ie

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Six months ago CCR, the largest private highway operator in South America, entered into a public-private partnership with the government to complete the project in time for the World Cup, with Salvador on Friday hosting the first of its six games as Spain and Holland clash in a rematch of the 2010 final.

CCR, who also operate airports and the yellow line of São Paulo’s metro have plans to extend the Salvador project to three lines by 2017, including an airport service.

For now it is a short journey at times not conducive to most commuters and while the intention is to increase the service times incrementally the metro will be restricted to stadium goers on match days during the World Cup.

But on Wednesday people seemed delighted with their train. Passengers cheered as the carriages pulled into each stop and chanted the name of the station.

photo 2A Source: Mikey Stafford/TheScore.ie

photo 5 Source: Mikey Stafford/TheScore.ie

There may only be four of them open at this stage but the stations are impressive — huge vertical walls of concrete, shiny escalators and, in the stadium stop only, a powerful air-conditioning system.

Thought to be the world’s shortest metro, it seems little expense has been spared and the government, along with their new partner CCR, will be a long time recouping their costs at approximately R$3 (€1) a fare when they start charging after the World Cup.

For now the locals and World Cup fans have a free ticket to ride on a train that has endured a very long journey to get to this point.

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About the author:

Mikey Stafford

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