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Portugal's government approves metro expansions in Lisbon, Porto

FILE PHOTO: Metro trains are seen parked at a Lisbon station February 2, 2012. Portugal's public transport workers, including rail, metro and bus workers, held a one-day strike to protest against government efforts to downsize the sector. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro/File Photo

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s government gave the green light to a 500 million euro (449 million pounds) plan to expand the metro systems of the country’s two biggest cities, Lisbon and Porto, with work set to start in 2019, an election year.

The long-awaited development is intended to ease growing congestion as both cities contend with growing economies and a tourist boom.

In Lisbon the plan includes two new underground stops and the revamp of Cais do Sodre, the city’s main transport hub for trains, metro and ferry boats. Up north in Porto there will be four additional stations and a brand new line.

Investment in Lisbon would be 210 million euros and in Porto 307 million and the works are set to start early in 2019 and finish by 2023, the Environment Ministry said.

A tender for contracts has yet to be launched.

The minority Socialist government’s 2019 budget bill approved last month includes a measure to reduce the price of public travel.

Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Axel Bugge and John Stonestreet