Madrid, Palma.—Whilst the Balearics battles to secure 240 million euros from Central Government to complete the currently stagnant Manacor to Arta railway line, Madrid has been spending between 54'000 million and 135'000 million euros on high speed train links on the mainland over the past eight years.

During the term of office of the previous Socialist coalition in the Balearics, the Ministry of Public Works had signed an agreement with the regional government to provide 433 million euros for railway developments on Majorca.

Of this amount, 240 million euros were allocated to the rebuilding of the Manacor to Arta rail line via Sant Llorenç and Son Servera. The previously existing line had closed down in the 1970s.

But once the works had begun, Central Government found itself in the eye of an ever-deepening financial storm and has so far only come up with 28 million of the 240 million euros promised for this particular project.

To make matters worse, the Balearic Socialist coalition in power at the time, awarded contracts on the railway line construction to the tune of 120 million euros - cash that it might have had in theory but which in practice was not there. Despite Central Government's Minister of Public Works José Blanco having pleaded poverty as the reason for not honouring his financial commitment to rail developments in the Balearics, it would seem that some areas of the country are destined to be “poorer” than others.

At what cost?
Unable to finish the extra 30 kilometres or so of rail line needed to complete the Manacor to Arta service by the time the general election comes round later this month, the Public Works ministry has instead been working furiously to extend high speed rail services to all corners of the mainland.

There are now 4'500 kilometres of high speed rail line track laid and 2'665 of them are fully functional. Of this latter figure, 1'600 kilometres were brought into operation during the last term of office of the present Spanish Prime Minister, José Luís Rodriguez Zapatero.

And what is the cost of this national high speed rail project to Central Government? According to data provided by the Spanish Business Confederation (Ceoe), the maintenance of a single kilometre of high speed track already in operation costs the state around 200'000 euros a year - and when the total length of track is considered, that is around 533 million euros a year.

So far as construction rather than maintenance is concerned, it cost between 12 and 13 million euros to build a single kilometre of high speed track. The excessively high cost is partly due to the geography of the Spanish mainland necessitating the construction of tunnels and spectacular expansion bridges. The Balearic Islands' Manacor to Arta train line has simply lost out to high speed ambition on the mainland.

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