THE national government’s €495 million bounty for Spain’s local trains overlooked three vital Alicante City projects. The biggest disappointment was the hoped-for rail link between the city and the airport. This was first discussed seven years ago but the project does not enter into Ministry of Public Works plans.
The airport, Spain’s fifth-largest, handles 12.3 million passengers a year and space was provided for a railway station when the new terminal opened five years ago.
Armando Ortuño, an urban planning expert and Alicante University lecturer, maintained that the airport is the worst-connected on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. The Alicante-Murcia line is only one kilometre away and the €50 million cost of a branch from the IFA fair complex would be offset by a potential seven million passengers each year.
Modernising the Alicante City-Murcia line which serves 3.6 million passengers each year remains on the back burner. This is one of the few lines in Spain that has missed out on electrification and its diesel trains serve a metropolitan area that is one of the country’s most-populated.
The Alicante City to Villena shuttle, promised long before the AVE high speed train arrived in 2013, was another Ministry omission.
Two civic groups, Elche Piensa and Iniciativas Ciudadanas platform (PIC) based in Alicante called on the Ministry to rethink its plans for the airport. They also asked for local trains to use the AVE station now under construction in Elche and improved rail links for the Alicante-Elche-Crevillente area.