Staff Reporter
IMPROVEMENT works on the Palma to Inca and Inca to Sa Pobla railway lines are to go out to tender at the end of this month.
The Balearic government has set a budget figure of 19.6 million euros, requiring that the works, which are scheduled to last for some twelve months, begin prior to the onset of summer this year. Mabel Cabrer, regional minister for Public Works, Housing and Transport, officially presented the project yesterday, accompanied by Rafael Pons, managing director of Majorcan Railway Services (SFM). According to Cabrer, this project is part of a priority scheme to improve the existing train line.
Also included in the purchase agreement signed by the Islands' ministry last October, was a commitment to buy new rolling stock and the planned elimination of level crossings. With these measures, she affirmed, the ministry is expecting that the railway service as it stands at the moment, will “undergo significant improvement in quality and efficiency” during the term of office of the present government. Speed and frequency of trains are to be upgraded, as is safety and comfort for passengers who choose to travel by train. The improvement project, declared Cabrer, will consist of a number of different aspects, of which the most important is the substitution of the current track weighing 45 kilogrammes per section for one weighing 54 kilogrammes and which will cost some 10 million euros. This substitution, said the minister, has become necessary because the current track, dating from the end of the 1980s, has suffered from small structural buckling effects and other “serious” imperfections. Recently, it has been too dangerous for the train to pass over certain parts of the track at full speed, contributing to the service running behind time. Furthermore, at a cost of 4 million euros, a section of 3 kilometres of track will be reformed, the urban area from Son Rullán as far as Marratxí. The replacement track will incorporate an anti-vibration system which will alleviate the noise pollution suffered by local residents every time that a train goes by. Pons didn't specify the level down to which the project will reduce the vibrations.
He confirmed that the vibration-control system was very much in its pioneering stages and its success was dependent on the ground where the specially-fitted track is laid. The works, claimed the Transport minister, “won't alter the service” of trains as in the main they will be carried out by night and on public holidays, although Pons explained that the construction of new track incorporating the anti-vibration system will cause delays because it will have to be laid in pre-fabricated slabs during the day. Cabrer also announced night-time services that will be running during the Sant Anthony and Sant Sebastian festivals with reduced fairs.
The aim is to encourage people, especially the young, to leave their cars at home and travel safely with the train.


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