By Humphrey Carter

WORK on the first phase of the tram link from Palma to Arenal could get underway as early as the start of next year.
The Balearic Minister for Transport, Gabriel Vicenc, said yesterday that the first stretch of the tram link to be built will be the one running from Palma's grand central station in Plaza d'España to the airport.

He admitted that the outline of the project has yet to be completed but the Minister is confident that an initial project will be ready to be presented by the Autumn and that providing central government includes the tram project in the Balearic rail transport investment programme it is poised to approve, work on laying the new tram line could start early next year.

Vicenc explained that once the link to the airport is up and running, then the final phase, the extension to Arenal along the Playa de Palma will be built.

He stressed that the Balearic government considers the tram a vital addition to the island's infrastructure and that it intends to do everything possible to ensure that the project goes ahead.

There is, however, some skepticism over the tram project in view of the scores of problems Palma's metro has suffered since it was inaugurated last year.

But, Vicenc said that the repairs are nearing completion and that the metro is on track to be finally reopened over the summer.
He added that important lessons have been learnt from the problems with design and construction of the metro which has been out of action for the past eight months because of a string of faults.