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Málaga light rail on the upswing: New extensions on the agenda

Leaving the tunnel at the University on line 1 | © Erik Buch

The commissioning of the central city section, which had been planned for many years and repeatedly postponed, has given the Málaga Metro a new boost. Since the opening of the system in 2013/4, passenger numbers had remained within manageable limits, with just around 7 million passengers being carried annually. Since the opening of the extension of the two lines on 27 March 2023, passenger numbers have increased by around 45% compared to the same period last year – and the underground extension to Hospital Civíl, which is currently under construction, should provide even more passengers.

© Erik Buch
High passenger demand – here at the interchange stop Guadalmedina with platforms at two levels | © Erik Buch
Entering Guadalmedina stop from Atarazanas, from left to right: Linea 1 higher level direction Atarazanas, lower level direction Andalucia Tech, Linea 2 higher level terminal stop, lower level direction Palacio de Deportes | © Budach
Guadalmedina, left Linea 1, right Linea 2 | © Erik Buch

The Málaga Metro is a standard-gauge light rail system that runs largely underground and is operated with five-car low-floor CAF Urbos. Originally, a network that would have gone even further than the current state of development was supposed to go into operation in 2009. Numerous delays only allowed the opening of the first sections in 2014, and it was to take another nine years until the 1.2 km long inner city extension was finally made available to the public a few weeks ago. But at least with some success. And this success story is now to be continued. The rush for the long-awaited new city centre link immediately revived plans for several extension options that had disappeared in the drawers for more than 10 years due to the long delays of the overall project. Local politicians have now put plans for a first extension to El Palo on the table, further extensions to the eastern parts of the city and in the longer term along the coast to Rincón de la Victoria, 10 km away, were already part of the planning 15 years ago and are now being considered again.

© Metro Malaga

© Metro Malaga
Another network scheme can also be found here: https://www.urbanrail.net/eu/es/malaga/malaga.htm
Narrow, single-track terminus Atarazanas of line 1, in the old town center | © Erik Buch

For Andalusian standards, the almost unanimous approval of all political parties for the extensions is almost surprising. This is certainly also due to the fact that the currently apparently favourable EU funding opportunities for Spanish infrastructure projects are further encouraging the revival of the plans.

In the long term, even a connection to the Vélez-Málaga tramway is conceivable, which, after 12 years without operation, is to be put back into service in the coming year 2024. Here, too, available subsidies had a not insignificant influence on the decision. The tramway was only opened in 2006, but then shut down again in 2012 due to political disputes over funding. The extension to the old town centre of Vélez-Málaga, which was already built but never opened to the public, is not part of the current planning – difficult to understand because this short extension would definitely increase the number of passengers of the small tramway system.

Tram Vélez-Málaga 2008 | © Budach
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