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Representatives of the Government and local town halls, at El Chorro station this Monday. Ñito Salas

New Caminito del Rey gorge walk train service is now a reality

Transport ·

With a round-trip price of 7.30 euros there will be several departures from Malaga every day allowing time to do the gorge walk, eat and return on the same day - something that was difficult to do by train until now

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Monday, 20 March 2023, 16:36

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The new Caminito del Rey train service from Malaga to El Chorro is now a reality. Starting from today (Monday, 20 March), several times a day, there will be an extension of the C2 suburban line from Álora, which will multiply the number of options to visit the famous gorge walk from Malaga. With a price of 7.30 euros (round trip), each day there will be several departures on this extension in both directions, which will be in addition to the Media Distancia (MD) trains from Seville, which already stop there.

Rail operator Renfe’s website already includes all the available travel options. For this Friday, for example, there will be six local services one way; and back from El Chorro there will be seven. As a result, a total of 11 daily frequencies will be reached on weekdays (including the MD), and up to 13 on weekends. The new service uses the same Civia train units the operate the C2 line, although on the some of schedules, upon reaching Álora, the journey will be extended by 16 kilometres, first to the Las Mellizas district of the town, and then onto El Chorro for the start of the gorge walk.

The journey time will be about 56 minutes: on this Monday’s inaugural trip it left at 9.43am from María Zambrano station in Malaga, and arrived at the gateway to the Caminito at 10.39am. With the new timetable, from now on there will be enough time to do the hiking tour, eat and return on the same day, something that until now (only with the MD) was complicated.

In total, there will be 81 weekly trains between Malaga and El Chorro, run by Renfe.

The project will have initially run for at least three years, and the trains will be free for regular travellers, since the same conditions will be applied to the conventional Media Distancia and Cercanías services. For occasional visitors, a 30% discount will apply with respect to the MD rate.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda, David Lucas, announced that this is one of the three local services that have been launched today (along with others in Cordoba and Murcia).

"It has been long-demanded by the municipalities. It is a pilot scheme and we hope that it will be widely used and will serve as a reference for other parts of the country," said Lucas, who said he was willing to "reinforce the line" in the event that the demand requires it.

It is forecast that it could carry up to 300,000 passengers per year, which is the number of walkers that the Caminito receives (some 345,000 if visits to the Guadalhorce and Guadalteba reservoirs are taken into account), according to data from Malaga’s provincial authority, the Diputación. More than half of them are foreign tourists, many of whom do not have a car during their stay, and who demand frequent, fast and reliable public transport.

Controversial inauguration

The Secretary of State was accompanied on the opening by the Government sub-delegate in Malaga, Javier Salas, and the mayors of Álora, Francisco Martínez (PSOE), and Pizarra, Félix Lozano (PP) on board this first train. According to sources from the Subdelegation, those from Malaga and Cartama (all the municipalities through which the line runs) were also invited, although they did not attend.

Political controversy was sparked by the PP spokesperson in the Diputación, Manuel López Mestanza, who said that the provincial authority had not been invited to the inauguration, despite having spearheaded the recovery of this tourist attraction in the province, and regretted the "partisan sectarianism" of the Government and the character of a "socialist campaign rally" that the act had acquired.

In response, the Secretary of State rejected the accusation, and alleged that the mayor of Álora had forwarded the invitation to the authority last Friday so that they could be present. From his words it was clear that the invitation had not been sent directly by the Government.

Next station, Antequera?

Answering a question from SUR, David Lucas said he was open to studying the extension of the Cercanías service to Antequera, as the town council has been demanding since the new Antequera-Alta Velocidad station was opened, on the outskirts of the town - much closer than the Santa Ana station.

“We will see how this service evolves, and how many users there are. From there we will assess other possibilities in the province and in other parts of the country where they are also necessary. To which he added: "No type of service is ruled out but you have to see its evolution."

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