THE Manager of the Majorcan Railway Services (SFM), Rafael Pons, yesterday said that he has total confidence that work on the underground link to the University in Palma will be “absolutely safe and no accidents will happen” like that which occurred in Barcelona at the end of last month, when excavations for a underground line caused the subsidence of a block of flats in the Carmel district. He claimed that this type of underground accident could never happen in the Balearic Islands, as excavations will be open face, following the main road in the Polígono Son Castello. Once the tracks are laid, they will be covered and the surface paved, he explained. The accident in Barcelona happened when workers were enlarging the line 5 of the underground near to the Carmel district. They were tunnelling beneath a block of flats, which subsided and was subsequently demolished. Pons stressed that his department will take all the safety measures necessary, so that those affected by the work on the underground in the nearby area will have nothing to worry or complain about. Rafael Pons specifically mentioned the employers and business owners from the Polígono Son Castelló and their recent complaints against the line, which will run as far as the University. He said that they will be “affected as little as is possible” while work is in progress. All these recent complaints and proposals to the underground project have been considered, and Pons said that they will use all those proposals possible that do not modify the original underground architectural design.
Furthermore, he explained that the project too has its own demands and requirements, for example, it is not possible to construct right angles and the curves must be of a minimum radius size. There has been a recent proposal for a further underground station at Sa Garriga and the Manager of SFM explained that this proposal will depend on the number of inhabitants in the area who would use the underground. He added that there were alternative solutions, such as combining the train withthe bus, which would make a better use of public funds.
Following the incident in Barcelona, more than 1'000 people had to be evacuated from the area, as well as two schools and 58 businesses.
The hole created when the tunnel collapsed was 18 metres high and 20 metres wide. One week after the incident, residents were prevented from returning to their homes when another cavity, the continuation of the first hole, was discovered. The Mayor of Barcelona, Joan Clos, has called on the Catalan government to “start an investigation” into the accident and discover the causes for why the earth subsided in the Carmel district. An independent investigation group will be created and they will be responsible for discovering the exact causes of the accident that happened when line 5 of the underground was being enlarged. The Opposition on the Barcelona city council is campaigning for the residents and shopkeepers who have been evacuated to be exempted from the payment of municipal rates and taxes, apart from any compensation claims.