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Malaga-Marbella coastal train plan: seven official projects in 162 years, but will this be the definitive one?
Rail transport

Malaga-Marbella coastal train plan: seven official projects in 162 years, but will this be the definitive one?

The most advanced proposal for a line along the Costa del Sol was the one promoted by the Junta de Andalucía using a metro format, although several other solutions have also been suggested by unofficial groups

Chus Heredia

Malagas

Sunday, 7 January 2024

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The ARCS consultancy and Economic Analysts of Andalucía , working on behalf of Malaga city council and the Diputación, Malaga's provincial authority, has proposed a new, mainly underground, coastal train project - the umpteenth proposal to run a railway line along the Costa del Sol between Malaga city and Marbella.

In the latest proposal, an 88% underground route is proposed, close to the A-7 motorway, at a cost of some 2.7 billion euros, with an estimated completion period of eight years, with trains running at speeds of up 160 km/h. It could carry some 44 million travellers a year. The entire route of the line would be new from Malaga Airport, and the current Malaga-Fuengirola Cercanías track and services would be maintained and operated in parallel. The study was presented on Thursday 4 January.

However, surprisingly, the first plan for this route dates back to 1862. There have been seven official projects in 162 years. At one point the extension of the Malaga-Fuengirola Cercanías service was on the table, but this option was finally ruled out. At the time, only three subsections were earmarked due to the lack of land on the Costa del Sol.

As early as 5 March 1926, it was established iin a Royal Decree that a Malaga-Algeciras line be included in the plan of lines of "preferential and urgent construction". However, successive events meant that this railway line was not even considered again until the 1960s, being integrated with the modernisation of what existed between Malaga and Fuengirola and the continuation to Algeciras in a national plan that also included the Madrid and Barcelona metros. In the end it didn't happen and the line between Malaga and Fuengirola was electrified and the current services started operating in 1970 with a single Renfe gauge track and passing through the airport as a national first.

There was also a regional government proposal to serve the length of the western strip of the Costa del Sol with a metro system. It was budgeted at 1billion euros by the then Department of Public Works of the Junta and, what's more, a double tunnel in La Cala de Mijas was awarded for an amount close to 200 million euros in 2009. However, the financial crisis arrived and the work was shelved .In the last years of the Zapatero government there were high-level conversations between the Junta and Madrid with another project on the table. It was also a new route between Malaga Airport and Algeciras. It was for a medium-distance line compatible with AVE high-speed trains and discussions were opened with Europe to obtain financing. Again, it didn't get off the drawing board due the economic situation at the time.

Another innovative project was that of the consultant Lluis Sanvicens, a Catalan based in the province for almost two decades, who maintained that Marbella could be reached in less than an hour by building a train track on 'stilts' above the A-7 motorway.

And, more recently, the Plataforma Infraestructuras group has proposed taking the train to Marbella along an alternative route through the interior of the Guadalhorce valley. It would allow a new high-speed route to be built meaning the travel time between the airport and Marbella could be 40 or 50 minutes. The project of ​​what they have dubbed the C3 line shows it running through the Alhaurines, Coín and Monda to Mijas.

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