THE Balearic government is planning to extend the railway service from Sa Pobla to Alcudia but a local Mayor is on a collision course with the Transport ministry over just what route the new track is going to take.

Alcudia's Mayor, Miquel Ferrer, said yesterday that if the planned train route from Sa Pobla to Alcudia follows the so-called “southern flank”, the service will have 36'000 potential customers but if the northern route proposed by the Balearic government's Transport ministry is chosen, the Majorcan Railway Service (SFM) may only be able to count on 10'000 users.

Ferrer was promoting a technical report yesterday which backs up what he will be saying today to Alcudia town council on the southern route - the one he looks on favourably to link Sa Pobla with Alcudia. The regional government, meanwhile are supporting the northern alternative which runs parallel to the M-13 road. The Mayor will be pointing out as one of his key arguments to defend his corner, that the Balearic government had wanted to capture tourist demand for a train link in order to help finance the infrastructure costs. According to a statistical analysis published yesterday by the town council: “The Alcudia and the Bay of Alcudia catchment area will potentially provide 36'000 users through a mix of residents and tourists,” but the area of Alcudia through which the government wants to establish the rail link “will only provide around 10'000 customers.” The town council will also request that the rail terminus be stationed in the most central area of the municipality near “Magic”. Ferrer claimed that the government really hasn't done its homework on the rail link, pointing out that if the authorities pursue the northern route, some 132 separately owned plots of land in the municipality of Alcudia are going to be affected, with important socio-economic consequences. “The ministry's preferred route is going to have a direct impact on the Alcudia to Sa Pobla road,” said Ferrer. “They will have to divert the road and build a new roundabout which will take a heavy toll on the landscape,” he furthered.
Ferrer is likely to have a battle on his hands because as long ago as June of last year, Transport Minister Gabriel Vicens had described the northern route “as the only possibility” for the new train link.

The Mayor said that there will be enormous environmental damage if the Minister gets his way because the mountain regions of Son Fes, Sant Marti and Son Vila will be scarred by engineering work. Ferrer also pointed out that his choice of the southern route is backed by all political parties on Alcudia town council.