EXCLUSIVE by James Bryce
EXPATS living in Cadiz, Malaga and Granada could be dealt a huge blow after the passenger train service between Algeciras and Granada was threatened with closure.
The route is one of several which could be scrapped by operator Renfe, which is failing to generate enough income to cover its €478 million annual running costs.
All regional parties, including the PP party, have opposed the move, while the CC.OO trade union has not ruled out protest action.
The mayor of Algeciras Jose Landaluce said he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the closure, which would affect thousands of students attending Granada university, as well as travellers using Algeciras port.
The closure would be bad news for the scores of expat businesses along the line who rely on income from hikers and day-trippers.
“It will have a huge impact on us,” said Benaojan-based hotelier Andy Chapell, of Molino del Santo.
“We get up to 3,000 people a year coming to us for lunch having arrived by train and for many people travelling by train is all part of the experience.
“A lot of our guests also use it for day trips to places like Gibraltar and Tarifa and my daughter uses it to get to school.”
Fellow expat Paul Darwent, who runs Bar Allioli in Jimera de Libar agreed the possible closure would be bad for business.
“I wasn’t aware that it was being considered for closure but it will have a big impact and will inconvenience a lot of people,” he said.
“We get a lot of business from walkers using the line. There are at least four or five people on each train and the numbers are a lot higher on weekends and holidays.”
The transport ministry is due to submit a list of the most costly lines around Spain at the end of the year, with a view to axing the least financially viable.
According to reports, a total of 328 stations in Spain receive no more than five passengers a day, 29 of which are used by no more than 10 passengers a year.
In 2011, the lines generated an income of €190 million, barely 40% of the €478 million cost and leaving Renfe with a deficit of €288 million.
Looks like the end of the line. Though Spain should learn from the mistakes unleashed by Dr. Beeching in the U.K. If the line is axed, it should be mothballed, preserved as far as possible. Because sooner or later, some, or all of it, will prove useful. If only for a cycle track! Or, possibly, a metro/tram style service on the parts with demand.
stefanjo – This is very upsetting news but I expect they will keep the line to carry freight and the through passenger train from Algeciras to Ronda/Cordoba/Madrid. The loss of the local train will have a very bad effect on the villages of the Guadiaro valley.
lived in Marbella for 20 odd years and never knew that the train went to Granada….. always thought Los Barrios to Ronda only….. !!! lack of marketing maybe???
find it strange that they have just extended the line at great cost to all tax payers saying for line improvements and now thinking closing. Real reason is the shipment of stuff from Algeciras ports to rest of europe. Its usual story some making fortunes while majority ignorant of what going on. If follow the road from port of Algeciras with all those crates you will see there has been new storage areas as port is small the idea is to cancel train and have it as transport link thus more crates can be shipped around europe for that large compnay that does all that to rest of europe. I notice just outside Castella they going to have storage zone for crates and getting ready to ship them. Very cleaver company get govenement to pay for like extention for them and now say can not use for passengers im sure if someone investigates this they will see vast corruption involved.
remember its a single line train service which means limited to travel on lines, all this was thought about by the crate company long time back but never told to ordinary people please get people to investigate it be great news headlines for curruption if train service closes.
This is just after a station has been built at Jerez airport, at a cost of hundreds of thousands, no doubt. Only three trains stop there a day. A great example of the joined-up thinking Spain excels at…
The possibility of the withdrawal of the regional passenger train service between Algeciras and Granada has nothing to do with corruption and quite a lot to do with the pressures from the European Commission to reduce state rail subsidies which at present in the EU total over 70 billion euros per annum. Bad economics sourced from ´competitive internal markets´ thinking which has not done the UK rail system proud of late. The EC is now promoting a pan-European freight transport network to support economic growth and reduce carbon emissions (one example is the Corredor Mediterraneo which is prioritized by the Ministry de Fomento and just been allocated an additional 1.2bn euro grant). In the EU hundreds of millions of people are disadvantaged by road air and noise pollution and millions by excessive freight train noise. Renfe and Ineco have been tasked to investigate where savings might be made on under-utilised regional passenger networks throughout Spain. Estimates of economic and social costs and benefits of any rail or road route are complex and often controversial but the Algeciras-Bobadilla rail track maintenance costs are shared by the freight haulage on some imputed ratio, so perhaps given the lack of provision of alternative passenger transport a rational decision will be made in favour of the route. As for the hugely welcome withdrawal of the proposed new track through Llano de la Cruz it has been partly influenced by re-consideration of the Corr Med freight route south-west of Murcia (no track presently exists) and the Algeciras to France connection possibly routed via Cordoba and Madrid. The EC has now included the feasibility of a central corridor through Aragon, and in all that perhaps read ´watch this space Catalan nationalists, you might be excluded from the grants and the future infrastructure benefits´. Hoping no one suggests again the idea of a totally new rail route along the Costa del Sol involving 47 tunnels and many viaducts taking 10 years to complete, on recent estimates to cost 12 bn euros and the EC repeating a few weeks back it will not support it. A time saving of 45 minutes for freight trains compared to the present inland route, 95% of Malaga port cargo activity inter-ship transfers ….
Very interesting Ray. The Algeciras – Bobadilla route is not only used by freight but by through trains from Algeciras to Ronda/Cordoba/Madrid.
The figure of 478 million annual running costs obviously includes the track and everything. The figure which would be saved by closing the country stations, rolling stock, salaries and fuel for the slow trains must be a fraction of that – it would be interesting to know how much.
BTW The odd paragraph would make your informative writing so much easier to read…
Jimeno, apologies for lack of paragraphs but due to recent and frequent power cuts in the La Cimada area rushed on the keyboard early morning.
I was in Gibraltar yesterday using the train to Algeciras. Was informed by a RENFE station official there to read the most recent copy of Eurosur. I attach the link to the article below. He also drew my attention to the new Renfe Mercancias building beside the station and informed me of further rail freighting developments at the port. New bridges being constructed on the route from Ronda and further extension of the signalling system. Also back at Ronda the ticketing office officials, not always up to date on matters originating from Madrid, were confident the service Granada – Algeciras is to be maintained.
Seems that the Junta de Andalucia will take on more of the regional passenger train subsidies from Renfe in 2013. Interesting to read that one line maintained in Galicia every passenger (not many!) paying the 11 euro fare is subsidized by 387 euros. Depends of course, as you state, how the historic, fixed, semi-fixed and current costs are calculated, and future costs of closure.
Also have read the European Commission requests the Min de Fomento to continue to include the modernisation of the Corr Med (or Central Corr) route to Algeciras, funding assistance assured by the EC, and that Fomento will announce its new plans ´middle´ of 2013. Maybe.
Caught this train 2 years ago, and there were considerably more than a few passengers travelling from Granada to Madrid on the train. It would take considerably longer than 5 hours in a car or on a bus to get to Madrid, so it really is completely counterintuitive to do this.
I used to live in northern Galicia and there is only one single track railway – the FEVE line which goes from Ferrol to Bilbao, which we used to get to Bilbao and flights back to the UK, Santiago flights being a total rip-off.
It is extremely well used, well maintained with fantastic scenery all the way and would have lots of tourists using it IF the Galicians/Cantabrians/Asturians and Euskadi had any idea how to market it.
An €11 fare – from where to where, you don’t say, so it’s meaningless. As to a subsidy of €387 – I would like to see a breakdown of this amount. Who published this ‘data’ and what vested interest do they have?