The main players of the Malaga group driving the ambitious rail project. Ñito Salas
Ambitious rail plan pitched for the Costa del Sol, by taking the line from Malaga to Marbella via a brand new route
Rail travel

Ambitious rail plan pitched for the Costa del Sol, by taking the line from Malaga to Marbella via a brand new route

A group consisting of local engineers, railway experts and regular train passengers (Plataforma Infraestructuras Malaga) has suggested the innovative solution following an extensive study

Ignacio Lillo


Tuesday, 2 January 2024, 15:16

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An innovative plan to run a new train line from Malaga to Marbella through the Guadalhorce valley has been suggested by a local group consisting of engineers, railway experts and regular train passengers (Plataforma Infraestructuras Malaga). It was one of the ideas suggested following an extensive study which proposed a series of plans to improve communications along the Costa del Sol, given that the existing C1 local service only runs between Malaga and Fuengirola.

A couple of ambitious aims were outlined which the group believes can be achieved. One would be to have to have a maximum journey time between Malaga and Marbella of 45-50 minutes, in order to compete with rideshare services on the coast. As a result, the group does not propose extending the C-1 line, as the current Fuengirola-Malaga route already takes 45 minutes. Another ideal would be to reach the maximum population possible, maybe with a high-speed train service, that would not only reach Marbella (passing the Costa del Sol hospital and the bus station); but also serve San Pedro and Las Lagunas (Mijas); Alhaurín de la Torre, Coín and Alhaurín el Grande.

The group identified several alternatives for the possible service they called Cercanías C-3, with one route passing Alhaurín de la Torre, then continuing on to Coín, Monda, and along the A-355 road to Ojén, and Marbella.

Cheaper to build

The proposal would cheaper to build as most of the track would be built at ground level, with the only underground section being in the foothills of the Sierra de las Nieves. The rail service would also improve the connection of Guadalhorce municipalities to the coast, particularly routes that are popular by car such as Coín-Marbella and Alhaurín el Grande-Fuengirola, the group added.

However, the main problem would be the section between Monda and Ojén, it added, as it would require the construction of a tunnel.

Driving forces

The driving forces behind the project are industrial engineer Jesús Martín, founder of Plataforma Infraestructuras Málaga. Vicente Jordá, a public works engineer and Pablo Marín, a graduate in business studies and a train driver on the Malaga Cercanías commuter train service.

"The first basic thing we focus on are the costs: if you have an alternative where you travel more kilometres above ground and use public land, it is going to be cheaper than extending along the coast, where you have to build tunnels," Marín said. "It [a rail line] helps to structure the province in terms of population; it solves housing problems as it is cheaper inland and it encourages social integration for people who live in remote areas," he added.

"When the line was first planned along the coast, Malaga was mainly a holiday destination, but in 20 years the city and its metropolitan area has become something else, now it is a place where people come to live, and the needs are different," the train driver pointed out.

Suburban and high-speed trains

Going inland, from Malaga Airport to Marbella you could potentially reach the Costa del Sol resort in just 30 minutes at an average speed of 160 km/h. In fact, the young engineer in the group, Vicente Jordá, said that with this proposal you could travel from the centre of Malaga to Marbella on a direct suburban service in 45-50 minutes, and in just over an hour with stops.

However, that is not something that could ever be achieved by extending the current line from Fuengirola as there is no double track along the entire route, and due to the many stops. The new route proposed suggests just eight stations. "It is the most viable alternative we see," Martín said. "It covers a larger catchment area, with the same cost or even less than if the current C-1 line were to be extended."

Environmental impact

Martín admits that the proposal would have to overcome the serious environmental impact requirements, due to its proximity to the Sierra de las Nieves; in addition to the technical complexity. "But if all this can be resolved, it is a very good alternative, because it has fewer kilometres and avoids passing along much of the coast and the estimated ten years of traffic problems ande delays that extending the C1 line along the A-7 would bring," he said.

In addition to disseminating the information to the public, the group's proposal is being shared among the main institutions in the area, resident and business associations of the Costa del Sol and Guadalhorce valley, professional associations, town councils and political parties. Finally, they will try to pitch it to the Junta de Andalucía and the central government in Madrid, which would ultimately be the ones that would have to pay for the bulk of the works.

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