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STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
REPAIR work on Palma's metro, forced to close after severe flooding in late autumn last year, is reportedly “well on track” giving rise to speculation that the service is due to “re-open shortly.” The installation of a major drainage sump in Gran Via Asima means that intense rainfall will be syphoned off before it can accumulate to dangerous levels in the underground railway network.

The metro had been closed indefinitely since 23rd September last year as the underground stations flooded each time there was heavy rainfall. Local authorities decided to close the service pending an investigation, as the safety of passengers could not be guaranteed under such circumstances. Transport director, Antoni Verger, confirmed yesterday that technicians are putting the metro “through its paces” in terms of rolling stock operations, auguring an imminent reopening of the service. Verger declined to give a specific date, however, emphasising that “until the Majorcan railway service (SFM) and the head of the technical department of the Transport ministry have given the go-ahead so far as passenger safety is concerned, the metro will remain closed.” On 3rd March last, Verger admitted that the repair teams had confronted difficulties which would mean that an April opening this year - announced weeks ago by the Balearic government - was “on the optimistic side.” Specifically, technicians had encountered safety problems in a number of tunnels, in some of the emergency exits and in the fire detection and extinguishing system.

With regard to the works which are being carried out at this moment, Verger explained that the recently installed sump will allow surface water to be channelled to the underground drainage system, well away from the metro network. He said that close to the positioning of the sump, some key modifications were being made to avoid rainwater collecting in vast quantitites on the road surfaces. In Via Asima, another large pipeline is being fixed in place which will “catch intense rainfall at its inception, channelling it out of harm's way.” Verger added that representatives of the Balearic government are in “constant” touch with businesses on the Via Asima, to keep them informed of what structural modifications are being undertaken and how they are progressing.

Alejandro Saenz, head of the Majorcan Industrial Association thanked the ministry for “letting us know everything that is going on . With regard to who is having to bear the cost of the metro repair work, Verger said that a judicial audit is being carried out on the allocation of responsibility and the matter is still to be determined. A flurry of paperwork is passing between the ministry and the Majorcan Railway Service lawyers. The City Council, the Railway and the Water and Drainage Services have been pointing fingers at each other so far as possible liability is concerned.