Newsletter - September/October/November (Autumn) 2001

This "stopgap" newsletter is just to keep you up to date with what is going on in Majorca and making it possible for you to see a couple of pictures without having to wait for them to download via e-mail, even if they aren't rejected by your anti-virus program !! I will add bits and pieces to this newsletter from time to time until something happens to warrant a whole new issue !! Just at the moment things are a little slow in happening on the railways of Majorca - no bad thing you may feel.

You will have seen in the August Newsletter that an enormous hole has been dug in Plaça d'Espanya (I never know how to spell things Majorcan nowadays) to make way for an underground carpark. The tunnel mouth has gone completely and I have borrowed a couple of photos from the AAFB website to show you - thanks, guys !! I'm full of admiration and gratitude for your website which improves daily and is an absolute treasure-trove of information and photos - if only my Spanish/Mallorquin was better.

Now there is news in Ultima Hora Digital (the Spanish language equivalent of the Majorca Daily Bulletin Digital) that they are planning an underground railway terminus/transport complex with lines leading to the University, Arenal (maybe a tramway), the Airport and Manacor, via Felanitx. My good friends Associació d'Amics del Ferrocarril De Balears (AAFB) tell me that the people of Manacor and Petra do not want these railways !!

Here's the cutting from Ultima Hora Digital. I'm afraid I can't translate it for you but if you have some understanding of the Spanish language and some French you'll get the idea:-

Govern y Cort se unen para impulsar el tren a Platja de Palma, UIB y aeropuerto

Antich y Fageda, que firmarán un convenio la próxima semana, solicitarán fondos a Madrid

El Govern balear y el Ajuntament de Palma acordaron ayer unir esfuerzos para impulsar el enlace ferroviario entre Palma y varios puntos claves de la fisonomía socioeconómica de Ciutat como son la Universitat de les Illes Balears, Platja de Palma y el aeropuerto de Son Sant Joan. El proyecto de creación del tranvia a Platja de Palma rondará los 30.000 millones de pesetas, según informó ayer el presidente de la EMT, Pedro Alvarez, quien también estuvo presente en la reunión.

En una reunión en el Consolat de la Mar, Antich y Fageda manifestaron su intención de firmar la semana que viene un protocolo de colaboración que impulse el transporte público en Ciutat. Dicho convenio contempla además la construcción de una estación intermodal en la Plaça d'Espanya, que supondría una macroestación en la que confluyan las comunicaciones de líneas de autobuses privados, EMT, tren y tranvia; el soterramiento de las vias de tren a su paso por Ciutat, un soterramiento que rondará los 20.000 millones de pesetas; la construcción de otra línea ferroviaria que una Palma y Manacor; así como la posible construcción de un tranvia que recorra la bahía de Palma.

Para conseguir el presupuesto necesario para cubrir este proyecto, el Govern balear informó ayer que solicitará colaboración al Gobierno de Madrid a través de las inversiones previstas en el REB y de los Planes de Infraestructuras del Ministerio de Fomento. Una petición que se hará, igualmente, de forma conjunta entre Antich y Fageda, mediante una entrevista con el propio ministro de Fomento, Francisco Álvarez Cascos, para informarle sobre los detalles del proyecto.

El convenio de colaboración prevé que las empresas EMT y SFM formen, asimismo, grupos de trabajo con la intención de desarrollar los planes previstos por el Govern en materia ferroviria. El convenio de colaboración propone tres líneas de financiación posibles para llevar a cabo el proyecto, que son: el Plan de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias 2000-2006, un convenio específico 2001-2010 o, a través de los Presupuestos Generales del Estado.

There is no mention of the Sóller Railway in this report and I understand that, as I indicated in my last newsletter, the bus is now giving them real financial problems which could conceivably result in the appropriation of this railway by the state and its consequent dieselisation and conversion to metre-gauge. I believe that the FS is run under an agreement which terminates in 2003.

Now, amongst the things which Toni Sanchis of AAFB very kindly gave me on my recent visit was an archive CD with a lot of historical pictures of the Majorcan railways and amongst these is one showing just such an underground station complex proposed in 1980. Click on the picture for a larger version.

I have also seen but can't find the image, a plan of Petra showing how they plan to take the railway over part of the town to avoid either slicing through it or going round the outskirts.

On the 17th October an article appeared in the Digital version of the Majorca Daily Bulletin which relates to the above and here it is:-

5.500 million peseta Inca to Manacor rail project up for tender
The Balearic government yesterday put the contract for constructing the new Inca to Manacor railway line up for tender. The project has a budget of 5.500 million pesetas and will involve the laying of 30.2 kilometres of new track. The new rail link will be a single track service and special material will be used in order to reduce noise and vibrations through residential areas, while also being easier to maintain. The link will run through the municipalities of Inca, Sineu, Petra and finally Manacor. However, there is still, one stumbling block for the Majorca Railway Company to overcome and that is how the link will run through Petra. The initial proposal has been rejected by local residents. Residents do not want the train to run through the old town, but the town is divided about the noise the train will make. The Mayor of Petra, Joan Font, has said that two alternatives are being studied by the local community, one involves taking the track away from the town and another sinking some 400 metres of rail under ground.

Another relevant report was to be found in the Digital Majorca Bulletin #570 of the 24th October as follows:-

Balearics dogged by planes, trains and automobiles
The Balearics and Madrid appear to be talking, but neither administration is as yet prepared to agree to one another's demands and terms. On Monday, Balearic Ministers for Finance and Public Works met the Secretary of State for Development, Francisco Alvarez Cascos, in Madrid and while Cascos proposed a number of solutions to the Balearics' transport and infrastructural problems, Balearic President Francesc Antich yesterday claimed that Madrid is continuing with its hotly denied anti-Balearic policy “soon people will think that Madrid is trying to pull our legs,” he said. In Madrid the domestic airline problem was discussed, and Cascos told Balearic ministers that, should Palma make an official application for flights from the mainland to the Balearics and services linking the islands to be declared a public service, then Madrid will seriously consider approving such a move, as is the case in the Canary Islands. However, Antich was not impressed by Madrid's offer, pointing out that Palma has already approached Madrid on two previous occasions. However, one of the most exciting proposals from Madrid is for Majorca's expanding railway service to be included in billion-peseta AVE (Spain's high speed rail service programme). While Antich made light of the fact that a high speed link to Alcudia “would stop in the sea,” Madrid's offer is focused more on the Majorcan railway's being able to consult and use the expertise of the country's top engineers and the very latest rail technology. The Balearics now have two options with regards to the future of the region's railways. Sign up to the national rail plan or continue operating as an isolated venture with central government only required to provide railway material and limited funding. Opposition Partido Popular parliamentary spokesperson, José María González Ortea, who was also present at the meeting, described the talks as “extremely positive.” Central government, while not prepared to channel large amounts of funding in to the local government's road policy, as it conflicts with central government's mandate, it is prepared to help the region develop its railway service properly. Ortea explained that Madrid does not believe a dual carriageway between Palma and Manacor is the solution. Madrid is adamant that for safety reasons, a motorway is the best way of coping with 40'000 vehicles a day. Ortea did admit though that, while the meetings appear to be achieving very little at this stage, “it's a good sign that the two sides are talking.” Antich maintains that Madrid is prepared to release public funding for rail, road and infrastructure projects, but money will only be forthcoming if the projects adopted are those devised by Madrid, therefore clipping autonomous government's wings and decision-making powers.


Today's Majorca Daily Bulletin has a report on a collision which occurred yesterday at the Palma Station of the Sóller Railway, as follows:-

Sóller train carriage comes off the tracks at Palma station
Five passengers were slightly injured yesterday when one of the Soller train carriages came off the tracks at Palma station. The carriage was stationary at the time and the accident happened just before 10.30 a.m. as the train's locomotive was carrying out a regular manoeuvre in order to hitch up to the first of the five carriages and haul them off to Soller at 10.30. The Palma station has three rail tracks, two of which are used by the locomotives which have to change the end of the train at the end of every journey. Yesterday it appears that the train driver mistakenly used the wrong piece of track and collided with the fifth and last carriage, the oldest of the five carriages in use yesterday. Despite the fact that the locomotive was moving extremely slowly, its shear weight was enough to nudge the carriage, with the five passengers on board, off the tracks. Being the last of the five carriages, it is always the last to fill up with passengers, hence there were just five on board. Two ambulances rushed to the scene and all of the five were taken to hospital, but it transpired that the injuries were very slight. One of the Soller train employees said yesterday that in the railway's 90 year history, yesterday's accident was the first to have ever happened at Palma station. Either the train driver made a simple mistake or he did not realise that five carriages were being used, when normally the train pulls just four. The Soller train is one of Majorca's most popular tourist attractions and runs throughout the year. Yesterday's services were disrupted for a couple of hours while railway staff righted the carriage and shunted it back on to the tracks with the help of a crane; the carriage weighs around 13 tonnes. The railway company refunded the price of the tickets to all of the passengers on the train, the majority of whom were foreign. Damage to the carriage was minimal, a few of the steps used to board the train broke and some of the wooden floor boards were broken.

My very good friends at AAFB (please click on the banner below to be taken to their website) have sent me some photos -

Thanks very much, friends for these photos - I suspect, judging by the clothing, the last one must have been of a previous accident which must have happened a long time ago !!

Thanks again to my contributors and supporters, any comments on the contents will be appreciated.

Watch this site for further developments which will take place whenever new information or pictures come to hand. Any submissions or contributions of information, photos old or new, postcards, books etc., will be very gratefully and enthusiastically received and if used on the site will be suitably acknowledged (as above). The photos, pictures and diagrams used on this site are presented for your information and viewing pleasure only. If any of them should be in copyright violation and the copyright holder would care to notify me I will either remove them or acknowledge the copyright accordingly.

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© Barry Emmott, 10th November 2001- Minor revisions 11th April, 2009