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Vélez-Málaga: No restart after all?

Regular service in 2007 - Hospital Comarcal stop | © D. Budach

It was planned for 2024, but now it is once again in question: the reopening of the tramway in the southern Spanish county town of Vélez-Málaga, which has been idle for 11 years. The newly elected city government refuses to make use of the 3.7 million euros in EU subsidies already granted, arguing that the city’s additional contribution could be used more sensibly for other projects. This is all the more surprising as the construction work had already been awarded to a company of the Spanish Cobra Group after a call for tenders. However, the city administration now explained – also to the surprise of not a few – that the corresponding contract for the reconstruction was not even legally signed. Either way, the construction contract only covers the 4.7 km stretch from the seaside resort of Torre del Mar to Parque Lorca in Vélez-Málaga, which was already in operation before, while the extension into the old town centre to the former narrow-gauge railway station was not considered for the time being. This 1.4 km long section could, however, significantly increase the accessibility and thus the passenger potential for the tramway. This extension was completed in 2011, but never put into operation.

Proudly anncounced back in 2006: The first modern tramway system in Andalucia – not for long…… | © D. Budach
Network scheme – in red the cuilt, but never inaugurated extension | © Ayuntamiento Vélez-Málaga

The history of the Vélez-Málaga tramway is remarkable in every respect: When it opened on 11 October 2006, it was celebrated as “the first modern tram in Andalusia”, but after barely 5 1/3 years of operation service ended on 4 June 2012. Insufficient passenger numbers of only approx. 500,000 passengers per year, triggered by the lack of a direct connection with the inner the city centre, but also long-lasting political discussions after a change of the city government and in interaction with the regional government of Andalusia led to the quick end at that time. The three modern, five-car CAF low-floor tramcars spent 1 ½ years on loan in Sydney but returned to their home base in 2016. We reported here: https://www.urban-transport-magazine.com/en/andalucia-and-its-tramways-today/.

Total investment cost of the tramway in 2006 was approximately 40 million euros.

Parque Lorca terminus – in the foreground the extention to the old railway station which never saw any passenger service | © D. Budach (2008)
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