MAJORCA'S Territory Plan includes a scheme for putting a section of the Soller railway line underground, from the Plaza España to the Palma Ringroad.
The aim of the project is to prevent this railway service from cutting the city of Palma into two sections.
The underground project is not only enshrined in the overall Plan, but is also encompassed in planning regulations which make it binding, albeit on a long term basis.
The Council of Majorca is due to give its final seal of approval to the Territory Plan this coming 13 December. Once ratified, the Plan will remain in force for ten years.
One of the regulations makes specific mention of the need to put railway lines in and out of Palma underground, in the areas between the Plaza España in the centre of the city, and the Via Cintura (ringroad). The recommendation applies both to the Soller railway and the Palma to Inca service. It is not, however, the only proposal related to the train lines.
Although the metro from central Palma to the Balearic University announced by regional leader Jaume Matas a few days ago, does not figure specifically in the Territory Plan, it does, however, speak of the construction of a light metro or tram service reaching as far as the University. It further mentions an extension as far as the airport and El Arenal, suggesting that there should be three branches of the integral metro service: Palma to the airport, Palma to the University, and Palma to El Arenal.
The document proposes another light metro between Palma and Andraitx, which would complete the railway network and provide a service across the Bay of Palma.
Added to these recommendations for Palma, the document goes on to suggest an extension of the railway service from Manacor to Arta and Cala Rajada. There is a need to study alternative layout so that lines do not cross through built-up areas of the towns signals the document. Plans should make use, wherever possible, of the old railway line which is the property of the Majorcan Railway Service (SFM).
Running parallel to the train line proposals, the Plan also proposes the development of a series of interchange points for passengers and goods. Featuring especially were sites in Palma, Palma Nova, Inca, Alcudia and Manacor.
The text also promotes the layout of parking areas on the outskirts of Palma, deliberately designed to encourage drivers to leave their vehicles on the outskirts of the city and instead, take public transport into the centre.
The Mayor of Palma, Catalina Cirer, has announced that the City Council gives its backing to sections of both the Soller, and the Palma to Inca, railway lines being put underground from Plaza España to the Via Cintura, although she recognised that the project must currently be viewed on a long term basis.
The Mayor pointed out that when taking action on the Soller train project, it has to be kept in mind that the management of this railway is contracted to an independent operator so that any infrastructure affecting the running of the Soller service would have to be agreed with them prior to construction.
The project for putting the central Palma section of the Soller railway underground forms one of the petitions which the City Council has presented to the Transport department of the regional ministry for Public Works. Plans remain in the stage of being open for public comment.
Another proposal put forward by the City Council is the creation of a metropolitan transport system in Palma to link up with other municipalities on the outskirts of the capital.
The scheme could be the embryonic stage of a future transport consortium which the Balearic government wants to establish. Such a programme would allow for the introduction of an Island-wide single ticket system, with three different tariffs governed according to passenger destination.