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Passengers on the first day of the city centre metro line. Salvador Salas
New train lines but busier than ever
2023: a year in the news

New train lines but busier than ever

Public transport ·

Malaga's metro made it into the city centre in 2023, but the Cercanías local trains proved to be insufficient to meet demand

Anthony Piovesan

Malaga

Friday, 29 December 2023

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This has been a fast-moving year as far as transport is concerned, with new metro and inland services on the plus side and overcrowding problems on the Costa del Sol's local Cercanías service on the down side. Meanwhile calls have heightened for a new bus, train, metro or tram service east of Malaga to relieve traffic jams on the motorway at rush hour.

Malaga Metro

City centre better connected by metro

The metro station in Alameda Principal.
The metro station in Alameda Principal. Migue Fernández

Malaga’s exponential growth has been matched on the transport front, with the extension of the city’s metro network, helping link the most populated districts with the historic centre.

Two new stations, Guadalmedina and Atarazanas, were officially opened on 27 March this year - contributing to 1.7km of newly installed rail line.

Guadalmedina is next to Malaga city’s El Corte Inglés department store and Atarazanas station is located in the Alameda Principal.

It was estimated that the newly extended line would double the network’s annual passenger handling capacity from nearly seven million passengers to 14 million.

Those predictions have not been short of the truth, where in August, Malaga metro overtook all those in Andalucía (Seville, Granada and Bahía de Cádiz) and became, at least for one month, the most used metro in the region. Some 980,000 passengers used the network that month, overtaking Seville for the first time, which, until now, was always the regional metro with the most passengers.

New train service

Gorge walk rail connection becomes a reality

The new service in El Chorro.
The new service in El Chorro. Migue Fernández

This year, it became a lot easier to travel to arguably Malaga province's top tourist attraction, the Caminito del Rey. From 20 March the Caminito del Rey train service from Malaga to El Chorro became operational.

The extension of the C2 suburban line from Álora runs several times a day and is expected to 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 are several departures in both directions, in addition to the Media Distancia (MD) trains from Seville, which already stop there.

Cheap high-speed fares

Renfe's competitors keep up the heat

Renfe and Iryo high-speed trains in Malaga station.
Renfe and Iryo high-speed trains in Malaga station. Salvador Salas

Spain's new low-cost high-speed train operator, Iryo, continued to run services between Malaga and Madrid this year, offering cheaper fares to passengers and huge competition to national rail operator Renfe.

This year also saw Ouigo's low-cost high-speed trains run along the Malaga-Madrid rail route, although the trains were only being trialled ahead of their highly-anticipated launch in 2024.

Costa del Sol rail

Cercanías overcrowding complaints roll on

A busy Cercanías train.
A busy Cercanías train. Ñito Salas

Record passenger figures can lead to overcrowding which continues to be a problem, particularly on the local Cercanías trains along the Costa del Sol.

Continual issues with packed trains and platforms sparked a steady stream of complaints from passengers throughout the year, particularly during the busy Semana Santa period, as some people struggled to even get onto trains that were so jam-packed.

While the Spanish government hatched out an environmentally friendly scheme to encourage people to use trains and buses instead of cars with its free travel passes, this has caused many more passengers to travel by rail, sparking a surge in demand.

Station collision

Trains bump sideways at El Chorro station

Clearing the line after the accident in El Chorro.
Clearing the line after the accident in El Chorro. Marilú Báez

A collision between two trains on the mid-distance line between Malaga and Seville earlier in December culminated a year full of complaints about rail travel in the region.

The accident happened at El Chorro- Caminito del Rey station when a train travelling from Malaga collided sideways with the end carriages of the train travelling towards Seville that was at a standstill. Thirteen people suffered minor injuries.

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