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Government spending plan promises boost to railway projects in Malaga province

The extension of the local railway line to Marbella has been included in the general budget this year.
The extension of the local railway line to Marbella has been included in the general budget this year. / ÑITO SALAS
  • The national budget includes six million euros for a future railway to Marbella, 32 for the Bobadilla-Algeciras line upgrade and 12.4 for the bypass on the high-speed route to Seville

The state spending plan that the government announced this week in parliament shows a slight increase in the budget assigned to the province of Malaga. The 2017 General State Budget (PGE) saw the lowest sums spent in the province since the beginning of the 21st century, with just 137 million euros (40% less than in 2016 which was also a bad year). This year's figure, 142 million euros, is 3.7% higher, still a long way behind the record set in 2008, when the central government invested 1.2 billion euros in the province's infrastructure.

Now, ten years on, the budget includes funds for a number of key projects. Among them is the much-debated scheme to extend the train service to Marbella, which is mentioned in two categories. Six million euros has been set aside in the accounts for the government's rail infrastructure administrator, Adif, under the heading High Speed and labelled “Costa del Sol train studies and projects”. The second sum designated for the Costa railway is 420,000 euros in the accounts of the Ministry of Public Works.

The impact of the PGE -which started its journey through parliament this week and is still a long way from being passed- on the province of Malaga can also be measured through the spending planned in other parts of Andalucía, especially in the context of rail infrastructure.

This is the case for the line between Bobadilla (near Antequera) and Algeciras, where most of the improvement work is due to take place in the province of Cadiz. Meanwhile funds set aside for the high-speed line that will shorten the journey between Malaga and Seville are included in the budget for the province of Cordoba where the work will be taking place. These projects would take the figure for Malaga up to almost 200 million.

Rail

Train to Marbella, Algeciras line and bypass to Seville

The lion's share of the budget as far as infrastructure is concerned goes to improving rail travel. The bypass on the AVE line between Malaga and Seville in Almodóvar del Río, which will cut the corner at Cordoba, is already on the drawing board and now has 12.4 million euros to get the works under way.

The Antequera-Granada high-speed AVE service gets another 58.3 million. The so-called Plan de Cercanías includes funds to improve access to the local line station in Plaza de La Nogalera, Torremolinos.

The construction of a railway line to Marbella still has a long administrative process to go before any work can actually take place. The Partido Popular MP for Malaga province, Carolina España, said on Tuesday that, given the paperwork ahead, the funds reserved in this budget -six million euros- may well not be spent this year. The initial studies into the future line are expected to be put on public display in the summer and then an environment impact report will have to be sought. The figure, however, does show that the central government is backing the rail project as well as the PP in Malaga, said España.

The rail investment that has sparked the most complaints is the announced spending for the renovation of the Bobadilla-Algeciras line. The sum of 31.8 million euros has been described as insufficient by the Andalusian business leader Javier González de Lara. The upgrade of the line, which will form part of what is known as Spain's “central corridor” for freight transport, is considered essential for both the ports of Algeciras and Malaga, as well as for the dry dock project in Antequera and “essential for the economic development of Andalucía”, said González de Lara.

The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, said that the 31 million to be spent on the Algeciras line was a “joke” considering that the project needs 1.3 billion. “These are disgraceful figures for infrastructure that is vital for the development of Andalucía,” she said.

Roads

North airport access and Alhaurín de la Torre road

The main road infrastructure to be included in this year's budget is the northern access to Malaga Airport from the outer ring road (Hiperronda). The contract has just been awarded to the group formed by Acciona and Jiménez y Carmona and the works have been designated 6.5 million euros. This scheme includes the long-awaited project to improve the road into Alhaurín de la Torre from the Hiperronda.

A sum of 3.2 million euros has been earmarked for the new Arroyo de la Miel exit on the A-7; 2.7 million will be spent on the Vélez-Málaga exit and one million for Fuengirola.

Water

No money to expand La Concepción reservoir

The area has not fared so well in terms of funds for water supply infrastructure. Despite the urgent need to expand La Concepción reservoir to guarantee the Costa del Sol's water supply in drought periods and avoid wasting resources, the government has not provided for the work in its budget. The PP justifies the absence with the fact that the environmental impact report has not been finished.

The government's water supply infrastructure administrator, Acuamed, has a budget of 8.8 million euros for Malaga province to be divided between improvements to energy efficiency at the Marbella desalination plant, and the reuse of wastewater from the treatment plants at Cerro del Águila, La Víbora and Arroyo de la Miel.

Airport and port

T2 facelift and cruise port improvements

A sum of 26.7 million euros has been designated in the PGE for Malaga Airport. Out of that figure, three million will go towards the renovation work in Terminal 2; and another three for improved urbanisation, roads and car parks.

In the Port of Malaga, 1.6 million of a total of 4.5 million euros has been designated to upgrade cruise ship facilities on the Levante quay.

Another small sum goes towards the studies required for the freight railway line into the port to be taken underground.

Other sums

Prison and promenade

The largest single sum reserved in the proposed state budget for 2018 is - for the second year running - is for the new prison in Archidona with 22.4 million euros.

In the case of beach infrastructure, the extension of Malaga city's Poniente promenade gets 563,000 euros; however work to recover the beach at the city's historical Baños del Carmen will have to wait, with spending of no more than 100,000 euros.

The city's future Oceanographic Centre continues in the government's plans and gets nearly three million euros.

“Discrimination”

Speaking on Wednesday, the president of Andalucía, Susana Díaz, of the Socialist party, accused the conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy of “discriminating” against Andalucía. The budget spending per inhabitant in Andalucía is 42 euros lower than the national average, she said; that is, 176.20 instead of 217.60 euros.