Rio de Janeiro Metro

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An unidentified 'B' type car arrives at São Cristóvão station on line 2, heading for Estácio. Photo by Tim Deakin.


As one of the largest cities in the world, Rio was a late addition to the ranks of those with modern rapid transit systems, the Metro first opening for business in 1979. Despite several extensions having been built since, the system is still small, serving 32 stations on two lines. Two different batches of cars are operated, with the older examples being unique to Line 1 whilst both types may be found on the newer Line 2. Cars are spacious, with large circulation areas by the large doors, with stations being designed to optimise the flow of boarding and alighting passengers, particularly at the busier points. With the exception of the standard of fittings in the cars, the entire Metro has much in common with the Bay Area's BART system.

The first portion of line 1 to open in 1979 was between Gloria and Praça Onze. Further extensions were completed both to the north and south of this initial section, and today the line runs between Saens Peña in the north and Siqueira Campos to the south, with Siqueira Campos being the Metro's most recently opened station. Work is currently in progress to extend beyond Siqueira Campos to Ipanema and Gavéa, although for the time being, Rio Metro operates its own fleet of high-specification buses to serve these areas. Line 2 was initially operated as light rail, but has been upgraded to full Metro standards, complete with cars similar to those to be found on line 1. Line 2 terminates away from the city centre, at Estaçio station, and it is necessary for passengers from line 2 bound for the central business district to transfer to line 1 here. A future project has line 2 being extended eastwards, to reach the business district, and thus reducing the amount of passengers transferring at the extremely busy Estaçio interchange.

Other, more long term plans, envisage the construction of a further four lines: of note, one will tunnel beneath Guanabara Bay to Niterói, with another line linking both the international airport and smaller domestic facility to lines 1 and 2.

Rio Metro's fleet comprises 68 single-ended cab cars and 114 trailer cars. The 'A' type cars form the majority and were built in the late 1970s; the 'B' type cars were built during the 1990s to enable full conversion of Line 2 to Metro standards. 'A' and 'B' type cars are not compatible; both types can, and do, operate on Line 2, but Line 1 is exclusively operated by the older 'A' type cars.

Stations are usually of the modern, bright type and many have disabled access, either via lifts or the unusual stairlift method. Several stations also have speakers playing classical music, whilst most also have at least one traditional Brazilian 'lanchonette' in the mezzanine level which sells drinks and indigenous snacks. Tickets are purchased from a cashier in a booth; no automated ticket vending machines are installed in stations. No unlimited passes are available, tickets sold as either 'Ida' (one-way), 'Duplo' (round trip)', 'Multiplo' (ten rides) or the combination Metro-Bus ticket, which costs the same as an 'Ida'. Police are stationed at the entrances to most stations, which are kept scrupulously clean, leading to a pleasant and safe environment.

Station By Station

Line 1

Line 1 has opened in sections, with additional extensions to both ends of the line opening ever since the line began service in 1979. Currently the line runs from Siqueira Campos in the south, through the central area and terminating at Saens Peña to the north-east. The line is entirely underground, and operates on 4-5 minute headways. Work is currently underway to extend the line past Siqueira Campos, which according to Rio Metro's maps, should ultimately add a further eight stations. At the moment, the areas in which these stations will be situated are served by Metro Rio's fleet of buses, which are very luxurious by Rio standards and feature such delights as air conditioning, wheelchair access, air suspension, automatic transmission and uniformed drivers - all items considered unnecessary by Rio's public bus companies. The two bus lines operated by Metro Rio run from Siqueira Campos station to Gavéa and Ipanema, and are very heavily used. Passengers pay the Metro's flat fare of R$2.25 when boarding the bus, which includes a free transfer to the Metro at Siqueira Campos; traveling the other way it is necessary to purchase a combination Metro-Bus ticket, which again costs the flat fare of R$2.25 and includes a free Metro to bus transfer.

For the purpose of this write-up, Siqueira Campos will be considered south and Saens Peña north. Currently serving as a terminal, Siqueira Campos is situated at the intersection of Rua Siqueira Campos and Rua Tenreiro Aranha. The primary entrance and exit is at the east of the station, and accesses fare control and a large mezzanine via escalator. It is outside this exit that the Metro buses may be boarded; they drop passengers off at a secondary entrance/exit, at the west side of the station. The station consists of two tracks and two side platforms, with the north face used for alighting and the south face for boarding. To facilitate further expansion, the station has been constructed to a 'through' layout, and the boarding platform has been extended over one pair of tracks so that only one set is used. Both sets of tracks are present, however, and extend some distance to the west, although both end in bumping blocks close to the station. As with all terminal stations, a very quick train turnround is made; the procedure appears to be that the arriving train operator alights, whilst another operator at the departure end of the platform boards the train immediately and departs as soon as boarding and alighting is complete. The arriving operator then walks to the departure end, and boards the next train to arrive. Train turnaround is as quick as thirty seconds from arrival to departure.

Cardeal Arcoverdé is the next stop after departing Siqueira Campos and is the most architecturally interesting station in the Metro system. The platform area has been dynamited out of the base of São João Mountain, and maintains a cave-like structure, with a large gap between the two side platforms to accommodate both tracks and between them, several large upright sections of the mountain to support the roof section. The platforms are a considerable distance from the small mezzanine area, and are also deeper than others of Rio Metro's underground stations - it is necessary to use three separate escalators to descend from street level to platform level. Disabled access is provided by three stairlifts. The station is situated in a small park and has an airy feel, whilst the mezzanine also contains a small jewelers' stall.

After passing beneath São João Mountain the next station is Botafogo, which consists of two side platforms and an island. Both side platforms are used for disembarking only, with the central island platform used for both boarding and alighting passengers. In reality, the practice employed here dissuades passengers from embarking onto the island platform, as upon arrival the train's doors first open on to the side platform, followed after a pause of approximately ten seconds, at which point the doors to the island platform open to allow passengers to board. The doors to the side platform close before those facing the island. This is done to help passenger flows at some of the busier stations and works very well. Mezzanines are situated at both ends of the station, which is situated beneath Rua Nelson Mandela and has six entrances/exits in total.

Flamengo is the next station, which consists of two side platforms with entrances/exits and both ends. The platforms are very close to street level, and are naturally lit slightly. The next station, Largo de Machado, is similar to Flamengo, and has its main entrance/exit to the north of the platforms. A crossover at the south end of the platforms leads to a smaller mezzanine and exit, on the west side of the station.

Cateté is another station where steps have been taken to assist passenger flow during busy times, and consists of two side platforms. Both platforms have exit-only staircases at both ends; the staircases to the sound end lead to a mezzanine, with the stairs at the north end of the platforms leading to high-level exit-only turnstiles - entrance is not possible at the north end of the station. A third staircase in the middle of the platform is entrance-only, and is linked to the mezzanine situated above the south end of the station. Gloria is slightly similar to Cateté, although the stairs at the north end of the platform are for entry only, the opposite to the situation at Cateté. The only exit is at the south end of both platforms, whilst the southbound platform has an additional entrance-only staircase in the middle.

Next is Cinelândia station, which serves the southern portion of the central business district (CBD). This plain station consists of a wide central island platform, with stairways at both ends which lead to separate mezzanine areas. Carioca is a very busy station and serves the heart of the central business district, resulting in serious crowding during the rush hours. It has one very wide island platform, and two side platforms; the latter are used for exit only, whilst it is possible to both board and alight from the central platform. The station has one large mezzanine in the centre, with only one staircase per platform; disabled access is via a stairlift. The station has three entrances/exits, one of which is to a park close to the Santa Teresa Tram terminal.

Urugaiana, the next stop, is slightly curved and has several stairways on both of its wide side platforms, all of which are marked as either entrance-only or exit-only. No crossover is possible at this station, as two separate banks of turnstiles control each platform. The large mezzanine are above the platforms exits to a huge and bustling market area; the entrance to the station from the street is difficult to pick out, hidden behind the many stalls to be found here. After leaving Urugaiana, the line curves sharply to the west, shortly after which it arrives at Presidente Vargas station. This stop is named after Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, who was Brazil's president/dictator between 1930 and his deposition in 1945. The station consists of two island platforms; there is a mezzanine at the eastern end of the station, whilst the western end has high-level exit-only turnstiles.

The next station is Central, which is a major interchange point between the Metro, local and longer-distance bus lines, and the Supervia suburban electric rail network. The station consists of one wide island platform, with two banks of escalators in the middle and stairways at each end, all of which lead to a very large mezzanine area above the platform which runs the length of the station. Disabled persons can access the platform via a stairlift from the mezzanine, which has at least four separate exits to the street.

Now heading in a south-western direction, the next station is Praça Onze, which consists of two side platforms with a central, naturally lit mezzanine at street level. A central bank of turnstiles lead to entrance-only stairs, whilst two outer banks of turnstiles are exit only and are accessed via escalators from the platforms. There was another exit from this station, at the extreme east end of the northbound platform, to Marques de Sapucai, although it was roped off - perhaps it could be open during the afternoon rush hour only, and probably consists of high-level exit-only turnstiles.

Estaçio is the next stop, a large complex which forms the sole interchange between lines 1 and 2. As a result of its situation some way from the CBD, the station becomes very crowded during rush hours as all passengers from stations on line 2 heading for the CBD must transfer here. The line 1 platform arrangement consists of one large island platform and two side platforms. Unlike other stations with this platform arrangement, boarding and alighting is permitted on all three. Numerous stairways and escalators are situated on both platforms, some of which lead up to the large mezzanine area, with the others leading down to the line 2 platforms.

Afonso Pena has two side platforms, with stairs in the centre of each to access a small mezzanine area. This station, situated beneath Rua de Santamini, is considerably smaller and more basic than most other stations on line 1, which is also the case at the next stop, São Francisco Xavier. This station is identical to Afonso Pena, except that the wall tiles here are beige, compared to white at Afonso Pena.

The next and final stop is Saens Peña, which consists of two island platforms and three tracks. The northernmost of the three tracks appears to be disused, and shows no sign of any trains using it; this is no doubt due to the fact that the northernmost of the two island platforms is for alighting only and, as a result, there is no way for boarding passengers to board a train on this track. The middle of the three tracks appears to be used most, with incoming passengers alighting on to the northern of the two platforms, and boarding passengers joining from the southern. The southernmost of the three tracks appears to be used occasionally, perhaps for put-ins from the yard as it adjoins the boarding platform only; all three tracks end at bumping blocks approximately ten yards past the platforms. The boarding platform has an 'next train' indicator, with arrows illuminating pointing at the relevant train; this was turned off at the time of my visit. Saens Peña is a very busy station, with train turnarounds made very quickly.

Line 2

Rio Metro's line 2 first opened for service in 1982, and has been extended on several occasions since to reach today's outer terminal of Pavuna, which is close to the Rio city limits, seemingly precluding any further extension of line 2 in this direction. It was originally operated by light rail cars powered by both third rail in one section and overhead catenary in another - subsequently the light rail cars were rebuilt, and the line converted to totally third-rail operation. They have now been replaced by heavier-duty trains which are well suited to the operation; both the older 'A' type cars, originally built for line 1, and the newer 'B' type cars from the 1990s can be seen in use today.

Line 2 has a much more suburban feel than line 1, with greater distances between stations enabling higher speeds. The majority of running is either through open-cut or elevated sections. Although the stations are well-policed and seem very safe, the line does pass through some of the world's most poverty-stricken, depressed areas and any potential railfan should bear this in mind if tempted to do a little out-of-system exploring, particularly in the areas furthest away from the CBD. In any case, there seems to be nothing of interest in these areas anyway.

In this article, Estácio will be considered south and Pavuna north.

Estácio is the closest line 2 station to the CBD, and is the sole point of interchange with line 1. All passengers heading from stations served by line 2 to the downtown area must transfer here, with the result that the complex has a large circulation area and several means of transferring between the two lines. The platform configuration here a large, central island with two side platforms. Passengers board from the island platform, and alight to the side platforms. In common with several stations on line 1, the procedure when trains arrive is to open the doors to the side platform first, then close them before opening the doors to the island platform to allow passengers to board. During off-peak hours the northern of the two tracks is favoured, with the southern track seemingly used to store a train. Presumably when more frequent service is operated during peak hours, both tracks are used. Approximately one car-length to the eastern end of the platforms is cordoned off, perhaps to accommodate longer trains in the future.

Departing from Estácio, the train proceeds through the tunnel before emerging into daylight shortly before arriving at São Cristóvão. The track is now set in ballast rather than concrete slabs, as is the case in the underground sections. São Cristóvão has two side platforms with exits to both ends, with the mezzanine at the north end of the station having a direct connection to the adjacent busy Supervia station of the same name, which serves all five branches of this interurban commuter railroad.

After leaving São Cristóvão the train proceeds to Maracanã, named after the adjacent soccer stadium which was the scene of the 1950 World Cup final in which Uruguay triumphed over the host nation in front of 200,000 spectators. The station's configuration consists of two island platforms and three tracks, the middle of which shows no sign of recent use. There are exits at both ends of the platforms to a large mezzanine, which had stairways to the street; there is also a very wide pedestrian bridge which crosses a large road junction and descends to street level directly in front of the Maracanã stadium, and would appear to have been built to accommodate the large crowds that undoubtedly descend upon the station on match days. Another Supervia station is also nearby - but there is no means of transfer, it being necessary to descend to street level to access the commuter railroad facility.

After leaving Maracanã the train returns underground for a short period prior to returning to the surface for good before arriving at the elevated Triagem station, which has two side platforms with central staircases to the street. The station is very airy and is adjacent to yet another Supervia station, and a small active yet overgrown yard and dilapidated shop which serve the regional rail system - two elderly Alco switchers were present. After departing Triagem the Metro runs next to the Supervia tracks, and there is evidence of a torn-up yard here.

The next station after Triagem is Maria da Graça, which is situated in an open-cut and has two side platforms with central exits to the mezzanine above, leading to the street. A further Supervia station of the same name is adjacent. After leaving Maria da Graça there are four storage tracks to the east of the running line. There is a short tunnel section before arriving at Del Castilho, which has two side platforms of which the northern quarters are cordoned off as trains aren't long enough to fill the platform. The exit is at the south end, with stairs up to a mezzanine. Next is Inhaúma, which has two side platforms and is a very plain-looking station. The next stop is Engenho de Rainha, which has an island platform with the southern end cordoned off and a stairway to the north end leading up to a mezzanine. This station is also very plain and as with all others, has a roof over the platform but not the tracks.

The curved Tomás Coelho station is next, and has two side platforms with exits to the north. The southern ends of the platforms are again cordoned off, as are the areas to the north of the stairways with the result that trains stop in the middle of the station. The platforms continue past the staircases for about 50 metres, and become very narrow with access to various restricted areas such as relay rooms. Vicente de Carvalho is reached after a short decent of the line, and has two side platforms with pleasant yellow tilework. The southern portions of the platforms are cordoned off, with the stairways to the north end of the platform leading up to a mezzanine, which in turn leads down to the street. This station is overlooked by a large "favela", or slum, which hangs onto the side of a hill to the west of the station.

Also dominated by favelas is the area surrounding Irajá, which has an island platform with exit and entrance to the north. Colégio, which in contrast to the previous few stations is elevated, is next, and has a wide island platform with a wide stairway at the north leading down to a street-level mezzanine. Trains stop in the middle of the platform, and wheelchair access to this station is possible via a stairlift. Compared to other Metro stations, Colégio is of an unusual yet pleasing appearance, with both the framework supporting the roof and the walls next to the tracks painted bright yellow. Proceeding to Coelho Neto, the station has two very long side platforms, both of which are, through a combination of a wall and fencing, inaccessible to passengers and have no roof or tiling. This would lend further weight to any theories that the line has been built with further expansion in mind. As at Tomás Coelho the north ends of the platforms are very narrow and house relay rooms and such. The exit is to the north end of the in-use platform areas, and leads up to a mezzanine; classical music is played here, and the tilework in an attractive blue with white and green pattern.

The next station is Acari/Fazenda Botafogo, which has an island platform accessed by a wide staircase to the north end. The walls are curiously painted pink, although the one adjacent to the southbound track is badly faded by the sun. A third track also bypasses this station, diverging from the southbound line approximately 200 yards before and rejoining about 200 yards after, and doesn't access the platform. The rails were very rusty and showed no sign of use, and its purpose is unclear. There is a large building to far side of the staircase, in an out-of-bounds area, which would again seem to contain relay and storage rooms.

Next is Engenheiro Rubens Paiva, which is similar to Acari/Fazenda Botafogo and shares the same pink-coloured walls and island platform. The exit is, however, to the south of the platform, with the stairway leading to a mezzanine which has a stairway to street level and a bridge across the adjacent road. Southbound trains stop to the extreme south of the platform and northbound trains to the extreme north, with the result that stopping positions are offset by around a car length. Classical music is played here.

Shortly before arriving at the final stop, Pavuna, a siding diverges from the southbound track, although it heads north toward the station, and is around 200m long, ending shortly before the platforms. Pavuna, as with Estácio consists of two side platforms and on central island. The side platforms are used for alighting passengers and the island for those boarding, although in practice it seems that the easternmost track is favoured with both the western track and side platform showing signs of only sporadic use; there is a diamond crossing to the immediate south of the platforms. Exit and entrance is to the north of the station, with both escalators and stairways leading to a mezzanine, with stairlifts enabling disabled access. The favoured eastern side platform also has a high-level exit-only turnstile about half way along. As with several other stations, the platforms extend some way further the area to which public access is permitted; the roof here is again supported by the unusual intricate yellow framework, as it is at Colégio, and as with all other terminals, train turnarounds are made very quickly.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 40928

(106k, 720x540)
Photo by: Tim Deakin
Location: Acari/Fazenda Botafogo

Image 40930

(87k, 720x540)
Photo by: Tim Deakin
Location: Coelho Neto

Image 40932

(84k, 720x540)
Photo by: Tim Deakin
Location: Del Castilho

Image 40935

(80k, 720x540)
Photo by: Tim Deakin
Location: Engenho de Rainha

Image 40937

(79k, 720x540)
Photo by: Tim Deakin
Location: Estácio

More Images: 1-38

Page Credits

By Tim Deakin.

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