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Progress on the project was explained to officials. Antonio J. Guerrero
Urgent call for rail improvement as major Antequera logistics hub takes shape

Urgent call for rail improvement as major Antequera logistics hub takes shape

The town in inland Malaga province is set to benefit from the new inland port which aims to be the biggest of its type in southern Europe

Ignacio Lillo/SUR

Malaga

Friday, 1 December 2023, 16:35

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The first phase of a major hub for warehousing and the transport of goods in inland Malaga province is expected to be finished this month, those behind the project told a forum organised by SUR in Antequera this week.

The Antequera inland port is planned to be the most important logistics exchange in southern Europe, covering an area the size of 100 football pitches in its first phase alone. Located in the village of Bobadilla, just outside the town, it expects to benefit from Antequera's strategic location as a crossroads for the Andalucía region and good rail links to the sea at Algeciras and the rest of Europe for moving freight by container.

Hopes are high that the project will be a big boost to the interior of Malaga province, where, as in a lot of inland Spain, rural depopulation is a real concern.

Speaking at the SUR forum, Mayor of Antequera Manuel Barón said the goal was to grow his town's population from 41,000 to 50,000 by 2035 as a result.

Some 2,500 direct new jobs are predicted in the short term, rising to 24,000 direct and indirect jobs for the local area in the long term.

However, despite the optimism, those backing the project are asking for more to be done to support it.

Barón is calling for the promised upgrade to the train line from Bobadilla via Ronda to Algeciras port on the Strait of Gibraltar plus a more frequent local train connection to Malaga. There has been protracted debate over how best to upgrade the Algeciras line, which is seen as key to the project succeeding.

"Maybe we can get improvements on the line without electrifying all of it, using hydrogen-powered engines," he said.

The Junta de Andalucía's regional minister of Infrastructure, Rocío Díaz, went further at the forum. Díaz said "It is essential we get the Atlantic-Central and Mediterranean corridors of the Trans-European Transport Network. We are unhappy that the rollout is not fast enough, especially on the Algeciras-Bobadilla line, which is the southern head of the line for both corridors. There is no more time to lose," she explained.

Díaz confirmed that only 0.5 per cent of freight in Andalucía is currently moved by train, with all the impact on the environment that such a low amount entails.

Groupe Idec, the main shareholder and managers of the logistics park, explained that now the first infrastructure phase is complete, the sale of space for warehousing and logistics can start. The first mega-warehouses should be built from next year.

However, Idec is also calling for permission to start the second phase of the infrastructure. "This is vital for balancing the books of the plan. We aren't asking for subsidies but for [the permission] to be speeded up," said director Maite Palomino.

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