By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
DETERMINED to show the previous Balearic government how to do things properly, the new left-wing coalition is going to give the green light to the Bay of Palma tram project.

Palma's flood-prone metro, the supposed highlight of the conservative's four years in power, hit the buffers before coming into full operation and is not expected to be operating again until January, which is when work on the tram project is expected to start.

The last time a tram rattled through the city was in 1959 and the government hopes to have the tram link between the centre of Palma and Arenal operating by 2009.

Expanding and improving public transport is one of the Balearic government's top priorities and, apart from the tram, a rail link between Manacor and Cala Ratjada and an extension of the line to Alcudia are projects of maximum importance.

Once the Sa Pobla to Alcudia rail link has been completed, phase two could involve another tram link between Alcudia and the Port of Pollensa.
A number of teams of engineers are currently working on viability and impact studies of all the above projects and, with regards to the tram, the councils of Palma and Lluchmajor are understood to be finalising the small print of the project.

The tram will start in the Plaza d'España and run along the Avenidas, either down the central reservation or to one side, towards the coast and on to El Molinar, Can Pastilla and the end of the line in Arenal.

In total, the tram will cover between 12 and 15 kilometres and be key to the revival of the Playa de Palma.
What is more, an eventual connection to the airport is not being ruled out.
The opposition Partido Popular this week called on the government to consider their proposed metro link to the airport but, as tens of thousands have found out, the PP's metro has been a multi-million euro fiasco.

The Palma to Arenal tram, which will run above ground, is in fact only part of the coalition's initial tram plan.
The original plan was to run a tram between Santa Ponsa and Arenal. But the estimated cost of the 35-kilometre project was some 317 million euros.
The Palma to Arenal link is going to cost around 64 million euros.
The government's public transport budget has been curtailed somewhat because of the unexpected costs of repairing the metro.
Engineers are working nights and weekends to repair the stretch of metro under the Son Castello industrial estate to ensure that the metro can be brought back into service as quickly as possible.

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