THE management of the popular Soller train, one of the top tourist attractions on the island, has had its concession renewed for another 50 years and plans to spend nearly 14 million euros on improvements. This was announced yesterday by Balearic leader Jaume Matas, who said that the management had presented an investment plan covering improvements to the track, level crossings, rolling stock and stations. He added that the management had also promised to purchase the modernist building known as Can Prunera in Soller and cede it to the town council as a cultural centre. Javier Mayol, the chairman of the railway company, said that improvements would start in November. Work on the line, which stretches for 30 kilometres from the Plaza España in Palma to Soller, will take eight years, as the service will not be interrupted. Carlos Simarro, the Mayor of Soller, said that the new 50 year concession will be a “guarantee of quality and good service,” adding that Soller residents looked on the train as something special. The existing concession, which had a validity of 99 years, is due to end on April 16, 2010 and the extension will be confirmed at a government meeting on June 3. A group of dignitaries travelled on the train from Palma to Soller yesterday, for the opening of an area dedicated to artist Joan Miró at the newly refurbished station. The opening was presided by Matas, Mayor Simarro, Javier Mayol and Joan Punyet, the artist's grandson.
The area has been opened with an exhibition of 35 Miró etchings ceded by the family for a year.
Matas spoke of the “sensitivity” of the Soller railway company in “promoting the cultural aspect of the future of tourism in the Balearics.” Mayol added that one of the priorities of this new area will be “to preserve the artistic heritage generated in the island,” pointing out that Miró developed a large part of his work in Majorca. Punyet thanked the municipality for its “courage” in providing a space for this heritage “which signifies the ties of the artist with the area as his maternal grandfather was from Soller.”