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A steam train in the 20th century. Ideal
La Alpujarra railway, a dream that vanished a century ago
History

La Alpujarra railway, a dream that vanished a century ago

Several projects to link Granada and Almeria provinces with Torre del Mar in Malaga province by train were considered, but never realised, at the beginning of the 20th century

Rafael Vílchez

La Alpujarra

Monday, 18 March 2024

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During the 20th century a number of projects were drawn up to link Granada city with the coastal town of Motril by railway. The projects also contemplated a line that would go through La Alpujarra via Lanjarón and on to Granada. However, the plans to bring the steam train to the province never materialised.

According to historian Francisco García Valdearenas, "In 1900 the General Mining Company, which had French and Belgian capital, was interested in the mining exploitations of La Alpujarra and the Sierra de Lújar, as well as in the construction of a railway on the coast." However, the historian goes on to say that although the company bought the contract rights from its owner, the Marquis of Cavacelise, "In the end, the parties did not understand each other."

Valdearenas explains that in 1904 a new railway law raised "new expectations" and a report drawn up by El Defensor de Granada, envisaged three lines: Granada to Motril; Órgiva (on the line from Granada to Motril) to Ugíjar (on the line from Ugíjar to Berja) and Almeria and a line from Baza to Calasparra station on the Chinchilla to Cartagena line. However, in the end none of the proposed lines were built. "Other projects also fell on deaf ears", says García Valdearenas.

Torre del Mar

According to the historian from Cádiar (Granada province), "Another project envisaged a main line that started in Torre del Mar in Malaga province and ended in Zurgena in Almeria province, where it would have linked up with the line from Lorca to Baza. The line had two branches: one from Órgiva to Granada and the other from Tabernas to Almeria."

The main line would have gone via Motril and Vélez de Benaudalla, from where a branch line to Granada would have been built to run through Lanjarón, Alcázar, Torvizcón, Notáez, Cástaras, Lobras, Cádiar, Yátor, Yegen, Nechite, Ugíjar and Laroles.

It would have gone through the Almeria province Alpujarra villages of Paterna, Laujar de Andarax, Fondón, Presidio, Benecid, Almócita, Beires, Canjáyar, Ohanes, Bentarique, Alboloduy, Santa Cruz and Tabernas, where one line would have gone down to Almeria city with another main line to Tabernas, connecting with the line from Baza to Murcia. But, "In the end this project was not carried out despite the influence of the famous politician Natalio Rivas," according to Valdearenas.

A solution to depopulation

The possibility of the Alpujarra railway was brought up on several occasions, but despite efforts by a number of regional and provincial bodies and a report written in May 1925 by the Granada Chamber of Commerce on the minimum railway needs in the province, which included the construction of a railway from Torre del Mar to Zurgena, no railway was ever built.

In 1926 a meeting took place in Motril, similar to the one held in Cádiar in 1924, but the plans were frustrated. According to García Valdearenas, "If the railway had been built in La Alpujarra, it would have undoubtedly had a great economic and social impact, including a solution to the problems of communication and isolation that the region had been suffering." The historian concludes, "With this project and other interesting initiatives depopulation would not have been such a big problem."

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