Thursday, March 10, 2011

Luz The Opportunity?

Luz station in São Paulo
Inside the station
The lights may be green but these cars are going nowhere!
Well, this entry comes to you from Brazil where I am spending two weeks on holiday - this week I am in São Paulo before travelling to Rio on Sunday. Of course, while I am here, I just had to visit a  railway station and the plan was to take a train ride somewhere too.
The station we visited was Luz or, more properly, ´Estação da Luz´ which was the first station to be built in São Paulo.
It was constructed in the late 19th century and was the headquarters of the São Paulo Railway Company. In the first few decades of the 20th Century it was also the main entrance to the city and this gave it a major economic relevance since coffee from Santos was transported via the station. The current building was completed in 1901 with the materials for its construction coming from the UK.
The station was designed by the English architect Henry Driver and designed and produced by Walter MacFarlane & Co of Glasgow. It was actually assembled in Glasgow and then disassembled for transportation to, and reassembly in, São Paulo.
During the 1940s the station caught fire and during the rebuilding process a new floor was added. After that, sadly, rail transport in Brazil declined dramatically and the same can be said for the district of Luz itself which, in turn, led to the degradation of the station.
However, during the 1990s, the building underwent much restoration work and it now looks truly magnificent.
The station is part of the Metropolitan Railway System which is run by the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) and, since 2006, it has also housed the Museum of the Portuguese Language.
On visiting the station we noticed advertisements for the Tourist Express which is, in fact, three separate trains that all commence their journeys at Luz station and, then, run to each of three tourist-oriented destinations. However, upon further investigation, we discovered that these trains only run once a week (on Saturdays), have but two carriages per train and are fully booked until April!
So the opportunity to travel by train in Brazil appears to have passed me by for the moment although, apparently, there is a chance that some tickets will be returned prior to departure. However, we will not know until tomorrow so, until then, we will have to keep our fingers crossed. 
Actually, having travelled around São Paulo quite a lot by car during these past few days, it is abundantly clear to me that it is crying out for a decent public transport system. Congestion is horrendous and it can take hours to travel but a few miles at certain times of the day. There is a Metro (underground) system and some overground lines but they are hopelessly inadequate for a city that is, after all, the third largest in the world.

There are also buses, of course, and these do have their own bus lanes but they can, and do, still get caught up in the traffic jams. How this country will cope during the World Cup I cannot begin to imagine. With just over three years to go until kick-off, I truly cannot see them constructing a public transport system that will be anywhere near good enough to handle the many people who will doubtless arrive for football and samba.
Ah well, if it really does prove to be impossible to get to your match, I guess one can always sit back and enjoy the music and the caipirinhas.
Ah, muito bom!

No comments:

Post a Comment