By H. Carter

PALMA'S ill-fated metro, which runs Plaza d'España to the university via the Son Castello industrial estate, finally returned to operations yesterday after having been closed for the past ten months for vital and expensive repairs.

The metro, due to have been the show piece of the former Partido Popular government, should have come into full operation last September after a trial period during which time passengers could travel for free.

However, the Autumn rains flooded the system and gave the new left-wing coalition government no choice but to close the metro down for repairs.
Apart from deficient and insufficient drainage systems along the route and in some of the stations, access problems were also spotted by engineers as well as a lack of sufficient safety and security measures in some of the tunnels.

A judicial investigation has in fact been opened into the construction of the metro and those deemed to be responsible for the deficiencies could face legal action.

Not only did the shut down complicate travel arrangements for thousands of commuters using the metro, but the construction of the metro ran 30 million euros over its initial 315 million euro budget, and the repairs have cost the new government an extra 30 million euros. In fact, once the 193 million euros in interest which is going to have to be paid out on the loans taken out to fund the project, the metro is going to cost the Balearics a total of 536 million euros.

The Balearic Transport Minister Gabriel Vicens was at Palma's grand central station at 6.30am yesterday to watch the metro return to operation.
He said that the government is confident that the network is now completely safe and that all of the problems have been resolved.
Services will be operating in both directions every fifteen minutes and significant savings can be enjoyed by the under 26's or over 65's and holders of the various books of tickets. The regular single fare is 90 cents and Vicens wants to include the metro in the public transport rover cards as soon as possible now that the service is fully operational again.


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