Portugal said Monday it will invest $14.4 billion to develop five new high speed rail links by 2018, including four which will connect the country to neighboring Spain, according to Agence France Presse.
The new rail links are needed because road networks are becoming saturated and the existing rail network, developed when Portugal had fewer ties to the rest of Europe, no longer reflect the current needs of the nation's economy.
The European Union is expected to cover more than half of the price tag of the project, while the Portuguese government will pay between 10% and 20%, said the news service.
The remainder of funding for the project will come from the European Investment Bank and public-private partnerships.
Construction on the new links will begin in 2006 and once completed both Lisbon and Portugal's second-largest city Oporto will be connected to Madrid, and from there to the rest of Europe, in under three hours, said the AFP.