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Sign warning of project to start metro work at the Hospital Civil Malaga. Moreno
Local rail services on the Costa del Sol had a record year in 2023
Transport

Local rail services on the Costa del Sol had a record year in 2023

The C1 and C2 lines had 16.1m users, boosted by the government's free travel scheme, and Malaga's María Zambrano station beat its record too

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Friday, 23 February 2024

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Free travel concessions on Malaga province's Cercanías local commuter rail lines helped passenger numbers to a record level last year, new data from Spain's national rail operator Renfe has shown.

More than 16 million passenger journeys (16,066,000) were made in 2023 on the C1 and C2 services from Malaga to Fuengirola via the airport and to Álora. This was a 43 per cent increase on 2022, and in absolute terms was almost 4.8 million extra trips in a single year. Until now, the best year had been 2019, with 11,848,000 passengers.

The rise cannot just be explained by the big take up of the free passes for frequent travel, promoted by central government as a way of helping people overcome energy price rises caused by the Ukraine war. It is also being explained on the sharp increase in the number of tourists visiting the Costa del Sol over the past year. The Malaga suburban rail service is the busiest in Andalucía by far and regular users have been severely criticising the overcrowding that now regularly happens at peak times of day.

María Zambrano station

Record rail travel in and out of Malaga has also pushed the number of passengers at the city's main María Zambrano railway station up to a new high.

In 2023, 6.26 million passengers used the terminal, an increase of 1.3m users on 2022.

As well as the increase in passengers on the two Cercanías rail lines, which pass through the station, the increase is also being explained by the introduction of competition on the high-speed services to Madrid from rival companies to Renfe, which has made that line more popular.

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