EXCLUSIVE By Paul Whitelock and Jon Clarke
A PROPOSED route for a new AVE high speed rail line would cause ‘total destruction’ for one of Ronda’s key valleys.
Hundreds of homeowners and hoteliers would be affected if a route published last week was to be built.
>> Click for large image of proposed route
Part of the so-called ‘Mediterranean Corridor’, the line – one of six suggested – would cut through the stunning Llano de la Cruz valley, where British Prime Minister David Cameron and celebrities including DJ Fatboy Slim and actor Adrien Brody have previously stayed.
While conclusions appear to show that the preferred route will be on the existing line from Antequera to Algeciras, homeowners are extremely sceptical after seeing the maps and the apparent costings.
“It just does not add up,” said businessman Nick Smallwood, whose property would lose much of its gardens.
“We cannot see how the new fast track train plus all the extra freight would stay on the existing line through Arriate. It is far too windy and will slow things down dramatically.
“Plus if the government has already budgeted 700-odd million euros for this small stretch I am extremely sceptical.
“Certainly if it comes through the valley, it will destroy a lot of livelihoods and lay waste to the area’s natural beauty. It will be a disaster for the Ronda area.”
Another English hotelier, who asked to remain anonymous, was concerned that the works required to upgrade the line from Ronda to La Indiana would blight her hotel for years to come and could put them out of business.
On the published map (see above) a number of key hotels in the valley will be seriously threatened, with one, Hotel Don Benito, completely erased.
The plan published in the government’s official State Bulletin (BOE) concludes however, that the ‘preferred option’ is to take the existing route to Ronda.
It also means there will be no new station, as widely reported, in La Indiana and AVE speeds will be reduced to just 220kph.
Route ‘Number 4’ has apparently been chosen as it is the cheapest and least disruptive.
Costing 711.47million euros, it will also have less environmental impact than some of the other proposals.
One local British railway engineer, remains extremely sceptical however and has already called in lawyers to investigate.
“I don’t trust this announcement,” he told the Olive Press.
“Similar things happened in Girona and Valencia, where proposals were put out to public consultation, only for something completely different to be built.”
A public consultation of 30 working days has now begun and the details are available in town halls along the route.
No dates are given for the start of the work.
I’m sure the residents of the “key” valley to which you refer have every reason to be worried. But what will happen beyond La Indiana? Has anyone looked at the topography of the Guadiaro valley between La Indiana and (say) Jimena de la Frontera as the train makes its way towards Algeciras. How on earth can that narrow valley accommodate “high speed” trains when the existing rebuilt track has 80 KPH speed limits for the new Cercanias trains?
Sad for those effected and for any natural settings ruined, but in the end it’s got to be good for the Ronda area economy if it has great fast links to the rest of Spain and Europe … and trains are better for the planet than planes! More people will travel by train in the coming years for sure, and the more freight that’s moved that way (rather than by plane or road) the better for everyone.
As for ‘unspoilt’ … does that really apply to Llano de la Cruz? Looks like an ugly urban sprawl to me!
Llano de la Cruz – ugly urban sprawl? I don’t think so!
there is already a train connection ? but not a high speed one ?
Ronda the hype-service-economy town of tomorrow ?
Come on this is a hyper-pension plan for some of the usual members of the corrupt amigo club.
You need to be blind with a serious bag over your head not to see it ….
Of course, promoting trains over roads and airplanes is good news for Spain and Europe, but does the Antequera to Algeciras route really need an AVE fast train?
Let’s face it, what is the demand for the AVE in Ronda? And is it really worth 711million?
The AVE between Toledo and Cuenca and Albacete (three big towns, two very important to tourism) was finally shut on July 1 this year after it emerged that an average of just 16 people a day used it.
The AVE train station built at Santa Ana near Antequera also gets a tiny amount of passengers a day. No more than 100 a day, as I understand it.
Algeciras is about as much a tourist draw, as Southampton or Rotterdam.
Has anyone at Formento or Renfe actually done studies on the projected demand?
Surely this scheme is merely aimed at bringing more money south from Brussels and Madrid into dubious pockets and creating some short term jobs?…. and to make it easier to move freight from Algeciras to the new ‘Dry Port’ in Antequera, which is already under construction (coincidentally, next to where the Junta and Antequera have been trying to get an airport built)?
The cost to the Ronda valley meanwhile is enormous.
Llano de la Cruz and the valley stretching up to Los Prados above Arriate has long been one of Andalucia’s most beautiful and desirable valleys to live and vacation.
The King of Spain has stayed here, as have the British Prime Minister and many actors and other celebrities… It has Ronda’s most beautiful country hotels (Molino del Arco, Fuente de la Higuera, etc), it is widely known for walking, cycling and horse-riding and is a large part of what makes Ronda great.
The valley south through the Guadiaro, alongside the natural park, is also stunning…. and should be protected as well at all costs.
It strikes me that common sense is not being applied here, just as was the case of motorway schemes all over the place, airports such as Ciudad Real (now shut) and as mentioned the AVE line between Cuenca and Toledo.
Should we expect to see more destruction of Spain’s natural beauty, merely to keep a few hundred people working in the Ronda area?
Good reply Jon! People are not very well informed and the politicians do they best to keep them misinformed. Who on earth would want to have all the freight trains from Africa to Europe and vise verse pass through that beautiful valley? Can people not see that it is all about freight trains but they call it AVE…
well I guess we all agree that this AVE (I am a big fan btw) line Algeciras > Ronda > North is just another useless Spanish amigo ponzi scheme, financed by public funds (wherever they come from) – the big downside here is that for the dubious benefit of some the whole area will suffer unrepairable damage in the future.
Maybe Andalusia needs its political spring uprising ! For an outsider it really is hard to graps what is going on here on a regular basis without local public outcry …..
Trains are great but when on vacation and Ronda is a fantastic tourist destination, the slow old fashioned is favorable over the high tech high speed AVE ……
Julia, thanks to truck lobbies freight trains have been diminishing since the 70s – I remember counting wagons with my buddies and it would be impressive numbers > 150 – now they seem to be under 20 …….. to ship freight by train makes a lot of green sense but unless pigs fly tomorrow and more and more money becomes unimportant to decision makers, I am afraid it will not happen.
Algeciras isn’t and in the near will not be an important port – ships will dock in the northern European ports Rotterdam, Hamburg ……. it is a silly dream to think merchandize will be unloaded in Algeciras to then, for a lot of money be transported via land, to the north.
I heard the Al Andalus train went broke – anyone know if there is any truth to that ?
Now that is a train worth subsidizing, and truth be said with competent management it could be a serious money maker.
Ali Bondiga -“Algeciras isn’t and in the near [future] will not be an important port “. Ali. Algeciras is the 3rd largest transhipment port in Europe and the 10th largest in the entire WORLD. Not to mention the 8th busiest container port in Europe. – And David, the work from la Indiana to Algeciras has already been done. Two years ago if we remember rightly. Everything is ready. The third rail was installed, the trackbed was upgraded, and the sleepers were replaced, and the tunnels are now high enough to take the pantograph. Trains will simply not travel at high speed on that bit.
PM is correct about the line south from La Indiana – apart from the fact the third rail was not installed at the time – although the new sleepers are ready to accept it. Work is currently underway to remove existing level crossings and either close them or replace them with bridges or underpasses.
As the Web Manager says, there is no third rail, but the preparatory work was done, including increasing (at vast expense I think) the radius of a curve near Cortes. But following the period the line was closed for all this work to take place (was it not 18 months?), we seem to have lost a lot of the (already) meagre freight traffic that used it beforehand! I know. My house overlooks the line!
Informative video showing some the incredible engineering works carried out while the line was closed a few years ago…
Many thanks for the link. As you say, very informative, since they would not have done all that work over that length of time, simply then to ask a few ex-pats along the route if they were OK with it. These decisions were taken at International level many years ago, and are linked to with the widening of the Panama Canal and the development of North Africa.
Its somewhat good to see that gullible folks, like PM, still believe in politicians and their ability to act upon common sense, especially on an “International level”.
LOL as mi amigo Fred would have said, sad that their knowledge and opinion is usually entirely based on Wikipedia and Snoogle …..
PM is pretty much accurate in everything he’s posted up to now.
Is Ali B a Fred alias? (Check it out Ed!)
No Paul – Ali B isn’t a Fred alias – unless he’s changed his internet provider. Ali Bondiga, Ben Dee, Anito Pepino etc all come the same IP address – but from a different one that Fred used.
A very interesting film, partcularly for those who live along the route, but it rather does put into perspective, the incredible work done by Mr.Henderson and his team a century ago, does it not?
Yes Paul W. you would think PM is accurate in his posts …. that is your given right so saynomore please.
I sincerely hope you don’t want to get me banned from the OP forum ?
I would hate to be second to Fred
I am in favour of the AVE just as long as it is routed through Paul Whitelock’s house. Only kidding Paul. Never seen such a lengthy reply from the Ed. He’s always banging on about ‘Green Schemes’ but is not keen on the idea when it goes through his back yard lol.
Stop chasing ghosts Karl. I am never in the past tense.
Sorry, I still can’t see why everyone’s up in arms about the llano de la Cruz bit … does the Olive Press live there by any chance? The areas people should try to protect are beyond that, areas previously untouched and with wild animals living in them … Llano to Arriate is an urban sprawl with no real countryside left at all. What’s the fuss about?
Anna – as I posted on Nov 17: “Llano de la Cruz – ugly urban sprawl? I don’t think so!”
Which bit are you looking at? I agree that Arriate is fairly dull and unpretty, but from Llano de la Cruz “village” down through Los Frontones, Fuente de la Higuera and La Indiana the valley is very pretty and largely unspoilt with the odd private house/farm/hotel/casa rural/holiday villa dotted in amongst the farms and vineyards.
“I sincerely hope you don’t want to get me banned from the OP forum ?”
Ali Bondiga, Ben Dee, Anita Pepino – or whoever you are – of course I don’t want you banned, as, up to now, you’ve not been offensive.
But I do wish you’d have the courage to use your real name instead of hiding behind silly “noms de plume”.
Paul … there are ugly buildings everywhere!
Sure, but not urban sprawl …!
The final route is still under review, but there has to be a new line, and upgrading of other lines. In Madrid we see this as an important area of work, for which we already have EU funding.