Giving up

It's time we started, if we haven't done so already, to lose that dogmatic, irrational, almost religious belief that all our problems will magically be solved by the invisible hand of the markets. For years we trusted that the train would eventually come to Marbella under its own steam, driven by traveller numbers, volume of business, the area's unquestionable international prestige, the latent demand and the potential profitability.

For years all those arguments that could have come straight out an elementary economics textbook seemed to carry more weight than any other reasoning, such as not keeping a town with a registered population of nearly 150,000, and who knows how many more, disconnected from the rail network. Over time we've learned that when there are financial arguments and market logic, any moral allegations or appeals for justice have too much realism to go anywhere.

Trains and high speed, they said, would end up reaching Marbella because for the administration there's no easier project to fund and justify with financial arguments. It's time to change religion. The POT territorial plan that the Junta de Andalucía is drawing up for the next few, not just years, but decades rules out the possibility with a disturbing argument: the land can't take any more infrastructure. This, in terms of the history of the development of the Costa del Sol, is a confession all the authorities should adopt. For decades urban development was permitted with no controls, answering only to market demand, and now we can't have a high speed train line because there's no room for one. There's no space for the future.

The proposal to build a railway line to Marbella comes of age this year. The then regional president, Chaves, made it in 2000, 18 years ago. Now the Junta de Andalucía has thrown in the towel, accepting there's no room for a line and ruling out using the political resource of reserving land to put pressure on the central government.

In the best of scenarios we will have to make do with a tram that's bound to be attractive for those with time to enjoy the scenery, but not for those who think it absurd that the journey from Marbella to Malaga could take longer than going from Malaga to Madrid. Instead they propose removing the toll from the motorway, a good formula to encourage the use of private transport and make our modest contribution to environmental disaster.