By Humphrey Carter

THE green light appears to have been given for work to start on the new Manacor to Arta rail link which has been met with some opposition from residents in the area.

Yesterday, the Balearic Minister for Transport, Gabriel Vicens, announced that the SFM Majorcan Railway Company, has reached a near 27 million euro deal with the large German transport technology manufacturer Vossloh to supply rolling stock and maintain the machinery for at least three years.

Vicens said yesterday that no firm date has been set for when construction of the new rail link will begin, but he expects to see track starting to be laid at the start of next year.

The Minister explained that the new train/tram link has the support of nearly 80 percent of the local population and that the rail service will breath a new lease of life into the area.

The SFM railway company recently erected an information tent in Manacor to inform residents about the project and the benefits the rail link will bring and, it appears that the majority of people approve of the new public transport service.

Vicens explained during yesterday's presentation that many of the existing railway stations which used to serve the old railway service are going to be reformed and returned to use and as much of the original tunnels and bridges as possible are also going to be used. He added that the new link is going to provide the local community with an environmentally friendly and comfortable mode of public transport. However, not all of the local population is of the same opinion. An anti-train movement has been set up and has the backing of residents of all nationalities living in the area who maintain that the rail link will fail to service the community at large and that a more efficient and reliable public bus service would be a better solution. As one reader recently wrote to the Editor, they would rather the money be saved and the old rail route be converted in to a “proper path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.”