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File image of a train on the C1 Costa del Sol line, between Malaga and Fuengirola. SUR
Move to scrap motorway tolls on Costa del Sol until train line from Malaga is extended along the coast gains momentum
Infrastructure

Move to scrap motorway tolls on Costa del Sol until train line from Malaga is extended along the coast gains momentum

The Andalusian parliament has unanimously agreed to the proposal, which now puts pressure on the national government in Spain to consider the coastal rail project a priority

Héctor Barbotta

Friday, 12 April 2024, 11:23

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The Junta de Andalucia parliament has unanimously backed a Partido Popular motion to scrap the AP-7 motorway toll charges on the Costa del Sol until the C1 Cercanias (commuter) train line from Malaga is extended from Fuengirola - even as far as Algeciras - in a move that is expected to put pressure on the central government.

Partido Popular, PSOE, Vox, Por Andalucía and Adelante all supported the proposal on Thursday 11 April in a bid to make the railway connection project along the Costa del Sol seen as a priority and become part of the political agenda.

Studies

The Andalusian parliament is also urging the Spanish government to make public the content and progress of past studies and reports looking into options to extend the railway line. It also wants the government to be transparent about budget allocation and include the different administrations and social and economic agents affected in the process of deciding the route and to suspend the AP-7 toll collection. PSOE did not throw its support behind the latter.

Secretary general of the Malaga Partido Popular José Ramón Carmona, who supported the proposal in the chamber attended by the mayors of all the municipalities involved, said the huge presence was testimony to the support for the project. "We have managed to open an important social debate in public opinion in the province of Malaga and we feel fully supported," he said.

The approved proposal points out that there is no area in Spain similar to Malaga and the Costa del Sol, with the region between Nerja and Manilva and its 170 kilometres of coastline the third major urban axis in the country after Madrid and Barcelona.

Carmona warned that with the population growth predicted for the coming years, mobility is an issue that will worsen, which is why it is crucial to find a solution. He pointed out 2030 forecasts predict more than two million people will live in Malaga province, surpassing Seville in the number of inhabitants.

Costa del Sol mayors and the delegate of the Andalusian government in Malaga, with Juanma Moreno and members of his government this Thursday in parliament.
Costa del Sol mayors and the delegate of the Andalusian government in Malaga, with Juanma Moreno and members of his government this Thursday in parliament. SUR

Carmona reviewed all the projects that have been successively put on the table since 1862, when it was first proposed to connect Malaga with Algeciras by rail and said creating a corridor is vital for the development of the province.

Despite the unanimous support, the debate was not free of pushback. PSOE's José Luis Ruiz Espejo assured that during his years in the Spanish government, the Partido Popular did not show any interest in this project and slowed down railway investment. He also criticised that the newly backed proposal did not include any measure within the competence of the Andalusian regional government.

Reach a consensus

After admitting both parties have had responsibilities, he warned that if the project continues to be used in the political fray, it will remain unsolved and said the first step is to reach a consensus on which train model is necessary for the area. "We have to put the general interest ahead of party interests, because when they governed they did not show this interest," Ruiz Espejo said.

PSOE tabled two amendments - referring to the creation of a consortium made up of representatives of the Spanish and Andalusian governments and economic and social agents linked to this project, and to the implementation of a plan for the free use of interurban public transport between all the municipalities affected - which were not accepted.

Alejandro Hernández, from Vox, said the motion fell short and defended the amendments presented by his party, which called for prioritising the pending works on the Costa del Sol's road network. Six of these proposals were accepted.

Both Por Andalucía and Adelante criticised the tourist and urbanistic model of the Costa del Sol and demanded the regional government fulfil an agreement already adopted by the parliament and claim control of the railways for Andalucía.

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