The Andalusian Minister of Public Works, Infrastructures and Territorial Planning, Marifrán Carazo, has defended in the Plenary Session of the Andalusian Parliament that the Spanish Government “should not waste the extraordinary European resources that have been made available with the Next Generation, the React/EU Plan or the next Feder Operational Programme” to improve railway services in Andalusia. “The result of the state management of the railway infrastructures and services in our region continues to offer many more shadows than lights”, she regretted after indicating that the progress of the sections of the trans-European corridors to boost productive activity, logistics and the internationalisation of the economy, “continue to be very slow and are far from the objectives set by Europe”.
The Councillor explained that in the Mediterranean Corridor, the Almería-Murcia section has not yet reached the cruising speed required to meet the deadline promised by the Ministry of Transport: 2026. “While it is true that work has recently begun on the section that will connect Almería with Murcia (Pulpí-Lorca), progress on the rest of the sections through the province of Almería continues to be quite slow. This is what the platforms for the railway, businessmen and the local media have shown, and they denounce it on a recurrent basis”, she pointed out.
According to Marifrán Carazo, even worse is the development of the section of the Mediterranean Corridor that should connect Almería with Granada. ADIF has advanced an advance of the functional study, which still has to be finalised and transformed into a construction project to tackle the execution of the work. “Moreover, the Ministry insists on not starting these works until the AVE reaches Almeria, without trying to analyse alternatives to overlap both sections and speed up the execution”, he denounced.
“Nothing is known yet -he added- about the commissioning of the track gauge changer executed in Cerrillo Maracena (Granada) to anticipate an improvement of the connection between Almería and Madrid, combining the conventional gauge track Almería-Granada with the LAV Granada-Antequera section, and in the case of the Mediterranean Corridor section that will connect Granada with Antequera/Bobadilla, doubts persist about the final design that the Ministry wants to adopt”.
Regarding the central branch of the Mediterranean Corridor, the conclusions “are no more encouraging”. “The Bobadilla/Antequera-Algeciras section, common to both corridors, still does not have a construction project for the Ronda-Bobadilla subsection”, she pointed out, adding that “its 19th century layout contains slopes that are not at all suitable for freight traffic”. For the Councillor, the Port of Algeciras Bay and its leadership deserve and need more ambitious technical solutions.
Regarding the Atlantic Corridor, and the Seville-Huelva High Speed section, Marifrán Carazo has criticised “the fact that we still have an informative study undergoing environmental processing, as well as a scarce or null will of the Government for its extension to the Portuguese city of Faro”, She also stated that ‘we have not observed a decisive boost to the new railway accesses to ports of general interest of the State and to the logistic areas within its orbit, despite the fact that the Regional Ministry of Public Works is investing 176 million Euro in the Andalusian Logistic Network, which should turn us into the Logistic Platform of Southern Europe’.
Likewise, the minister stated that the conventional Media Distancia and Cercanías services in Andalusia continue to be “a great lost opportunity”. “Our proposal to revise the railway map of Andalusia, which we submitted to the Ministry at the beginning of the legislature, has been of no use. What is more, they have got worse. For example, we have witnessed the loss of backbone services such as the Seville-Bobadilla-Granada-Almeria Media Distancia, or how the deficits in the Malaga suburban service, which despite being the most profitable in Spain, have become more evident. And what can we say about the uncertain promises of the railway connection between Santa Justa and Seville Airport, whose study has had to be taken on by the Junta to try to promote its execution, or the completion of the Metro Train in Cordoba”, he concluded.
Petition to improve medium-distance services
The Minister of Public Works recalled that, as I announced on 3 February, the Andalusian regional government has decided to “take a step forward”. We are working,” she added, “on requesting management, network capacity and financing from the State to complete the insufficient supply of medium-distance services between the Andalusian capitals with intercity trains.
“Our aim is to make the medium-distance railway option between our capitals more attractive, incorporating more frequencies and more competitive journey times. Other formulas, such as agreements with Renfe or entering into a complex process of transferring competences, do not seem to us to be the most fruitful options”, she explained.
Furthermore, the Councillor defended the fact that the Regional Government is “doing its homework” in the improvement and expansion of the undergrounds we manage (Seville, Malaga and Granada); it has promoted the start-up of the Bay of Cadiz Tramway, scheduled for this summer, as well as the completion of the Jaen Tramway System and the reactivation of the pending works on the Alcalá de Guadaíra Tramway.
This planning effort,” he concluded, “is being well received by the European funds (88 million euros for the Feder Major Project Declaration of the Alcalá de Guadaíra Tramway, another 68 million euros of Next Generation funds for the execution of the Granada Metro Southern Extension, or the 4.56 million euros, also of Next Generation funds, for the essential completion of the Jaén Tramway).