The Spanish Minister for Development, Ana Pastor, arrived at Malaga Airport on Tuesday laden down with promises regarding the unfinished infrastructure projects in the province.
The most waited for announcement refers to the extension of the local Cercanías train service as far as Marbella and Estepona.
A year and a half after starting, engineering consultancy Ineco is about to conclude its study of the railway which will be presented to the public before April.
The engineers have taken into account three possible routes to run the trains from the current last stop of the line in the centre of Fuengirola to both Marbella and Estepona, according to sources from the Development Ministry.
Although no details have been released at this stage, it is clear that the densely-populated area leaves few options. The new railway will use existing roads such as the N-340, the A-7 or the AP-7.
It is not yet known whether the line will be underground (something the Junta considers too expensive), overground or a combination of both.
What is also unknown at this stage is whether private investment is to be considered for what is expected to be a lucrative service, given that Marbella has 150,000 inhabitants and Estepona has a further 70,000 and the proposed extension will connect these people with Malaga airport.
The decision on the most suitable route will be determined by “technical and budgetary” issues and these are to be publicly discussed at a date that fits in with this year’s general elections. Then follows a public consultation period which has a minimum length of six months. Only after that will the Ministry of Development put the construction plans of the train line out to tender, something which is predicted to take place before the end of 2015.
Ana Pastor has said that she considers this project “very important” and appeared committed to ensuring it happens.
The Minister also discussed other pending and proposed schemes during her visit to Malaga.
One that she stressed needs to be prioritised is a direct high-speed or AVE train connection between Malaga and Seville which would cut journey times from its current hour and 55 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and a half according to the stops made.
“They are both important cities and need this transport connection,” Pastor said.
With regard to the AVE service between Malaga and Granada which is in its final stages of construction but still has three unfinished stretches, Pastor revealed that “if there is no technical hitch it will be completed in 2015”.
Courtesy: Sur in English
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