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Palma de Mallorca: New hope for a state-of-the-art tramway

Plaça d’Espanya mit Tram | © CAIB / Govern Illes Baleares

More than 60 years after the closure of the old tramway and around 10 years after the demolition of a first new construction project, it currently looks like the return of the tram in modern form in the capital Palma de Mallorca could finally become a reality in the foreseeable future:

On 10 November 2022, the Prime Minister of the Balearic Islands Francina Armengol and the Spanish Minister of Transport Raquel Sánchez agreed on the construction of the first line of a new low-floor tram system. This is made possible in large part by pledges from the central government in Madrid of substantial EU funding to realise the €185 million project.

Prime Minister of the Balearic Islands Francina Armengol and the Spanish Minister of Transport Raquel Sánchez signing the financing package to fund the new tramway | © CAIB / Govern Illes Baleares
Along the coast: The first line to the airport | © CAIB / Govern Illes Baleares

The line

Very similar to the previous project abandoned in 2011, the first line is to run from the central Plaça d’Espanya on the edge of Palma city centre via the beach suburbs along the El Molinar to Can Pastilla and further on to Palma de Mallorca Airport. At Plaça d’Espanya there is a connection to the metro, the electric regional train lines to Inca/Sa Pobla/Manacor and also to the historic interurban railway to Sóller.

Several on-street sections are included in the course of the line, with preference at signal installations, otherwise the line will predominantly use its own right-of-way alignment. The line is planned to be double-tracked in standard gauge throughout. In addition, several bridges will be needed to integrate the line into the grounds of the major airport in the island’s capital, and the terminus of the new railway is also planned to be elevated at the main terminal. 10.9 km is the total length of the new route.

Plaça d’Espanya interchange terminus | © CAIB / Govern Illes Baleares
Aeroport Palma de Mallorca terminus on an elevated alignment | © CAIB / Govern Illes Baleares

What happens next?

The final details of the construction, which are still open, are to be finalised shortly and the first invitations to tender are to start immediately afterwards, so that construction can begin in 2023.

The vehicle concept envisages five-section, low-floor bi-directional tramcars with a length of 35-36 metres.

If everything goes according to plan, the first new low-floor trams will be running on Mallorca in 2028. The medium-term plans also include the construction of further lines on the Can Pastilla – l’Arenal de Llucmajor and Plaça d’Espanya – Hospital de Son Espases sections – which will require a further 65 million euros in funding. Let’s hope that this time things will progress quickly and that the new trains can contribute to a significant improvement of public transport in the greater Palma area.

© CAIB / Govern Illes Baleares
Can Pastilla with tram | © CAIB / Govern Illes Baleares

Some impressions of Palma’s old tramway:

Four wheel tramcar no. 34 of Palma’s old tramway which operated on 914mm gauge. The last line closed in 1959. Photo near Plaça d’Espanya on 12 June 1957 | © Ray deGroote Jr.
Palma tramway in the 1920s | © commercial postcard / coll. UTM