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Subject: Lisbon metro promises to fit missing emergency brakes

Written By: Philip Eno on 09/04/14 at 3:10 am

The underground railway in the Portuguese capital Lisbon has promised to finish fitting emergency brakes on all its trains in the next few weeks.

This follows an investigation by the i newspaper that shows Lisbon Metro has been running trains for two years without the electromagnetic brakes needed to make emergency stops. The company says it detected a mechanical fault with the system in 2012, and deactivated the brakes so it could make repairs.

But the paper reports train speeds in tunnels has dropped from 60km/h (37mph) to 45km/h. Industry sources say this is because drivers are giving themselves more time to stop in stations safely without the emergency braking option. The company later confirmed this, insisting the main braking system was enough to guarantee safety - as long as trains are moving at the lower speed.

As for the two-year delay in repairing the brakes, i journal uncovered mistakes in the delivery of parts, and problems with the compatibility of some components. The Prosecutor-General's Office has an open preliminary investigation, and the IMTT transport regulator says it is "closely monitoring the measures the company is taking". The Metro management says it has now put the proper emergency brakes on 60% of its trains, and expects to complete the job soon. As only 80% of its trains run at any given time, this means "day-to-day, the vast majority of trains already have the brake system fitted", Lisbon Metro assures passengers.

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