PROMISED gauge-change facilities on the Granada line will compensate for the slow progress of Almeria’s AVE.
This issue has united the local political parties, the local business world and the unions, and Ana Pastor, the central government’s minister of Public Works, confirmed during a recent visit to Almeria that the long-requested infrastructure is to become a reality.
The gauge-changer will allow trains that leave Madrid on the European gauge built for the high-speed AVE trains to switch to the Iberian gauge on reaching Granada. They can then continue to Almeria, cutting the journey to Madrid or Sevilla by an hour.
A proposal to include the relatively cheap gauge-changer during work on the Granada AVE line was rejected in a vote by the national parliament in Madrid last April. Pastor nevertheless ordered a feasibility study which resulted in the recent announcement that the infrastructure has been included in the 2016 Budget.
The president of Asempal, Almeria’s association of business-owners, Jose Cano Garcia, applauded the decision after having called for better rail communications some months back. “This will alleviate to some degree our inadequate communications with the rest of the country,” he said on hearing Pastor’s news.
It will also alleviate irritation in Almeria that plans for its high-speed link with Murcia is moving at a snail’s pace although the AVE is due to arrive in the neighbouring capital this autumn.