By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE Balearic government, union and CAEB business confederation yesterday signed a new Mobility Agreement and pledged to work together in significantly improving sea, air and land transport services.

Josep Olivar, the president of the CAEB, said that transport is the backbone of the Balearics. “90 percent of our goods are shipped in and transport is also vital to the region's main industry, tourism,” he said at yesterday's meeting chaired by the Balearic president Francesc Antich.

Antich said that he and his government are open to any suggestions of how transport can be improved and announced that Madrid will finally give the green light to the 444 million euro railway investment package late this month.

The president said that improved transport systems are “fundamental” for the future of the Balearics, its tourist industry and the general public. “We need to have a more advanced, extensive and social transport network which will make it easier and more comfortable for people to get from one place to another,” said Antich. Once Madrid signs on the dotted line of the railway investment package, work will start on extending the railway from Manacor to Arta and on to Cala Ratjada at a cost of 90 million euros and the 92 million euro construction of the line from Sa Pobla to Alcudia. The line from Inca to Enllaç will finally be doubled and the government also wants to fully electrify the railway network.

55 million will also be spent on phase one of the airport tram and the controversial central control system which Majorca railway staff fear will lead to job cuts.

In cooperation with central government, the Balearics will also lobby for improved inter-island air and sea connections and greater travel discounts for all travellers, including non-European Union residents.

Antich wants inter-island air connections declared a public service during the winter to prevent the airlines from reducing the number of flights between the islands and the mainland.

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