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STAFF REPORTER PALMA

REGIONAL Minister for Environment and Transport, Gabriel Vicens, said yesterday that even after announcements of Central Government cut backs, neither his department nor the Balearic Finance ministry “has had any notice that any of the funding promised for railway development is being refused.” Vicens was replying to a Parliamentary question from the Mayor of Manacor, Antoni Pastor who was critical of the fact that at a time of recession, “so much money is being spent on the building of the Manacor to Arta tram-style train.” Pastor alleged that spending so many millions of euros “isn't going to solve anything” and pointed out that there were many people in Manacor who were against the project which would involve the train track running through the streets of the town. The Mayor invited the Minister to re-think the project.

Vicens was also under fire in Parliament yesterday from Partido Popular (PP) MP, Sandra Morell who asked what steps the Transport Ministry was going to take to deal with the subsidence affecting the bridge over the railway at Petra.

The Minister explained that on 6th April, a crack had been noticed in a side buttress of the bridge. That very same day, said Vicens, various technical inspections were undertaken and preventive measures taken to stop further subsidence. A specialised company was then contracted to make an assessment and recommendations on how to stop further deterioration.

Morell meanwhile, claimed that all the Balearic government had done was to order train drivers running through the area of the bridge to lower their speed from 80 to 50 kilometres per hour to avoid vibrations. Morell reproached Vicens for not ordering an urgent investigation and said that her party “would thoroughly look into the matter to find out why there are so many train accidents.” Morell went on to ask the Minister if he had taken steps to check on the safety of the whole of the Majorcan rail network. Vicens replied that Morell was ill informed and set out what had reportedly been done so far to ensure rail travel safety.