I N 1878, the first train arrived in Sa Pobla. It was to prove to be a major boon for the town's agricultural industry, and so popular was the train that the town hall decided to introduce two fairs on account of the number of people who could then come into the town. The rail service to Sa Pobla has not been uninterrupted over the past 135 years. In 1981, the service was suspended. Improvements were to be made. They took twenty years. The line didn't re-open until 2001. Further improvements are hoped for, one being a possible relocation of the station so that it lies on the town's ring road. Another may be electrification, which currently covers only the line from Palma to Inca. These assume, though, that the line between Sa Pobla and Inca isn't suspended once again. There has been talk of it being dropped on economic grounds. Were it to be, it would be a further blow to any improvement to the island's rail infrastructure, the biggest blow having been the abandonment of the east-coast line from Manacor to Artà. Closing the line would also be unpopular and no more so than in January. The town's Sant Antoni fiesta is the island's biggest, and many visitors come by train; special services are laid on. It would be unpopular too with those commuters who opt to use the train to get to and from Palma. Even for those in neighbouring towns, the train is a cheaper option than having to pay to park a car all day in Palma.

The railway from Inca to Sa Pobla should by now, had plans gone as they were meant to have done, have been extended to Alcúdia. It is almost 80 years since such an extension was first planned. The chances are that it will never be built, but it is perhaps worth remembering why the most recent plan collapsed. It had nothing to do with finance - Madrid was prepared to pay for it - but had everything to do with politics and landowning self-interests. There were two possible routes. The regional government's transport ministry, then headed by Gabriel Vicens of the PSM Majorcan socialists, favoured one that followed the line of the main road from the end of the motorway. The town hall, at that time under Miguel Ferrer of the Unió Mallorquina, wanted it to come past Albufera and the power station. The arguments were long and tedious. Landowners in Son Fe, through which the main road goes, staged a tractor protest against the railway. The town hall could see which side its bread was buttered. Go against the Son Fe landowners, and there would be hell to pay. So long did the arguments continue between the town hall and the government that Madrid finally said enough was enough. It withdrew the finance. And so the story of the rail extension came to an end, possibly to never be revived. But there has always been a bit of a mystery about the end of the saga. The central government finance was still available. It was meant to have been diverted to the Manacor-Artà line, the one that was abandoned because of a lack of finance. What, one wonders, ever happened to that money?