Malaga to Fuengirola by train

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by Cricketer8for9, 11 Jun 2019.

  1. Cricketer8for9

    Cricketer8for9 Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    Having travelled from Fuengírola to Malaga and back today it’s clear quite a lot of work has been done to double, perhaps straighten and certainly put track underground in various places. Does anyone have a history of the line? Nice Siemens/CAF Civia 4 car units (articulated) and a 20 minute service for a decent length traffic day. Decent passenger numbers, including intermediate journeys- it was all too and from Malaga. It also serves the airport.

    Also one curiosity in that Badelmadena Arroyo de la Miel was left hand running where all other double track was right hand running. Apologies for the lack of accents.
     
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. James H

    James H Member

    Messages:
    246
    Joined:
    25 Jun 2014
    It was originally a metre gauge FEVE line that transferred to RENFE in the early 1970s
     
  4. Cricketer8for9

    Cricketer8for9 Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    That makes sense. My feeling is that, in Fuengírola at least, there must have been something close to street running.
     
  5. Cloud Strife

    Cloud Strife Member

    Messages:
    46
    Joined:
    25 Feb 2014
    There's some good history here in Spanish: http://ferropedia.es/mediawiki/index.php/Línea_de_Málaga_a_Fuengirola_(vía_ancha)#Historia - information is harder to find about the narrow gauge line, but in general, it was very poor quality. Some more history here too: http://www.andalucia.com/cities/malaga/train/fuengirola/railway-history

    In short, the line is actually one of the most interesting ones around. It would take a lengthy essay to detail everything, but in short, this was supposed to be a much longer line reaching through to Algeciras and Cadiz. The company that built the original line never continued it beyond Fuengirola, and when the line was massively upgraded in the 1970's, it was future-proofed (you can see this in Fuengirola station) for the westwards extension. It's still a matter of huge public debate, as Marbella badly needs a train station to relieve the pressure on the A-7 coastal motorway (the AP-7 toll road is hideously expensive).

    The line, as you correctly guessed, had street running in Fuengirola - the old train station is actually the tourist information office today. The entire elevated section through Los Boliches came in the 1970's, but I think the tunnels/cuttings between Los Boliches and Plaza Mayor date from the narrow gauge railway. The section between Torremolinos and Malaga Central has seen quite a few changes since the 1970's - Plaza Mayor is a new stop, the Malaga Airport section only opened a few years ago, Malaga Maria Zambrano was completely changed with the arrival of the AVE, Malaga-Centro was opened after the rest of the line. Torremolinos itself will be dramatically changed in the next couple of years, as it's completely unsuitable for use these days. Until recently, trains were only at a 30 minute interval, but I think the airport extension allowed them to move to a 20 minute interval.

    About the future of the line, there are two competing schools of thoughts. The first one is that the commuter line should simply (well, not so simply) extended to Marbella while serving some of the large communities that have built up over the last 30 years along the coast. It would follow the coastal motorway, and serve the Costa Del Sol Hospital. If the existing commuter line is used, the line will probably never extend beyond Marbella as it wouldn't make sense: the journey time is already quite considerable between Fuengirola and Malaga, and it would be well over an hour between Malaga and Marbella. This would offer considerable relief for the existing coastal motorway, which is often jammed due to accidents and tourists driving like idiots.

    The other school of thought is that the existing commuter line to Fuengirola should remain unchanged, while a new line would extend to Marbella and Estepona via the interior toll motorway. The Costa Del Sol Hospital would still be served, and this line would be usable by the AVE high speed trains in the future. This would allow trains to travel quickly as it would be on a new route, and the interior path would mean that it wouldn't operate as a commuter train.

    As you can see, neither option is really favourable. The commuter railway needs to be extended so that places like Calahonda (home to a huge retired expat community) can be served, but also tourists want to be quickly able to access Marbella, Estepona, etc. Using the interior route would mean that the Costa Del Sol could be connected by high speed railway, which would cater for tourists willing to spend the premium needed to get quickly from Malaga Airport to their end destination. Yet the coastal route is also needed.

    Side note: Fuengirola used to host Talgo trains that came from Madrid. As far as I know, Malaga Airport station is already adapted for use by the AVE too.
     
  6. Cricketer8for9

    Cricketer8for9 Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    Thanks very much. I’ll have a go at the links in my not terribly good Spanish and the second one in my rather better English!
     
    Last edited: 12 Jun 2019
  7. Cloud Strife

    Cloud Strife Member

    Messages:
    46
    Joined:
    25 Feb 2014
    Talking of the line, I think the biggest problem it has is that it still has significant sections of single track. I've seen a proposal a few years ago where the Los Boliches elevated section would be replaced with a twin track tunnel, which would remove one of the largest bottlenecks on the route. The Torreblanca tunnel could also be dualled, and there should be just enough space west of Torreblanca station to extend the twin track for another 100m or so. It would be an expensive upgrade, but combined with dualling the track west and east of Plaza Mayor, it would offer decent capacity improvements.
     
  8. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

    Messages:
    2,798
    Joined:
    4 Dec 2013
    Location:
    Baildon, West Yorkshire
    Interesting stuff, having used this line a few times recently I've been trying to find some more details on the proposed extension from Fuengirola partly because I'd love to be able to use it one day if the coastal route was chosen!
     
  9. Cricketer8for9

    Cricketer8for9 Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    Thanks Cloud Strife. The feeling I had, based on nothing too specific and so quite happy to be disproved, was that a 15 minute service might well be possible (there was perhaps one wait for another train at a station) but accept that the location of the passing places might dictate a 20 minute service or that the Malaga single track terminus may in fact be the limiting factor, esp as once an hour the C2 services needs to be accommodated. And maybe RENFE prefer an achievable service all the time rather than one achievable only on a good day.
     
  10. Cloud Strife

    Cloud Strife Member

    Messages:
    46
    Joined:
    25 Feb 2014
    Yes, I think you're pretty much right. The Malaga terminus especially should be upgraded to twin tubes, especially as it will now connect to the Malaga Metro too. It's very strange that they didn't upgrade the C-1 line further, especially in light of the development of Malaga Airport and the connection to the AVE. There's certainly no reason why they couldn't have double tracked the entire route from Plaza Mayor to Malaga-Centro as part of the upgrading works, and I think it was a huge missed opportunity at the time.

    There's some more background here: http://www.surinenglish.com/local/201712/01/more-support-idea-railway-20171201102432-v.html

    Personally, I think they should just double track the line to Fuengirola and build it onwards to Marbella, possibly with a terminus in San Pedro de Alcantara. It would allow Nueva Andalucia to also be served by the railway, and it could easily be changed into a metro-style service as line speeds simply aren't that high. I don't think speed is necessarily important on this line, but rather frequency.
     
  11. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

    Messages:
    8,792
    Joined:
    28 Sep 2010
    I used this line 22 years ago, from Malaga Airport* to Torremolinos. It wasn’t particularly well used, but the trains were modern.

    *It was from a street level stop just outside the terminal building. I see things have moved on a bit, but it was definitely from the airport!
     
  12. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

    Messages:
    2,798
    Joined:
    4 Dec 2013
    Location:
    Baildon, West Yorkshire
    Thanks for that, until this thread I didn't even realise there was an option using the AP-7 route being considered. I think you are right, doubling up and extending to Marbella would probably be a better option.

    When we used it last month it was busy from Fuengirola, quickly filled to standing then was still heavily loaded from the Airport all the way to Malaga Centro. I imagine at the high of the tourist season it's even busier.
     
  13. Cloud Strife

    Cloud Strife Member

    Messages:
    46
    Joined:
    25 Feb 2014
    Yes, I think there's no sense in building a higher speed line in the interior. The problem is also about cost: a coastal line will require extensive tunnelling works, but given existing passenger numbers, I don't see why the costs couldn't be recouped.

    It's only going to get worse with the changes to Torremolinos station creating barrier-free access. I'd say that at the minute, there's easily justification for a 15 minute service on the C-1.

    IMO, they would be better off expanding the line to twin tracks now, then building slowly towards Marbella as funds permit. The Fuengirola-Marbella line wouldn't need so many stops - so they could place them at:
    • Fuengirola Miramar
    • La Cala de Mijas
    • Miraflores-Calahonda
    • Marbella-Playa
    • Hospital Costa Del Sol
    • Marina La Bajadilla
    • Marbella Old Town
    • Palacio de Congresos
    • Embarcadero
    • Museo Ralli
    • Nueva Andalucía
    • San Pedro de Alcántara
    That would cover main tourist areas, while also not overloading the line with as many stops as between Fuengirola and Malaga. I'm not sure about timings, but something in the region of 60 minutes from Marbella and 75 minutes from San Pedro de Alcántara should be the aim.
     
  14. Wychwood93

    Wychwood93 Member

    Messages:
    222
    Joined:
    25 Jan 2018
    Location:
    Burton. Dorset.
    As a frequent visitor to Los Boliches I struggle with the idea of a tunnel - it would quite probably have to be a tad under sea-level/water table - very expensive! To say the least. As an idea it is not too bad - would doubling the existing elevated section be more expensive? Even with the current 20 min services with the Civia stock it is very busy most of the year and even more so in the 'peak'. More euros for more doubling is required for a 15 min service - and perhaps even more if it was continued to Marbella. Probably a 10 min service for that.
     
  15. Glenn1969

    Glenn1969 Member

    Messages:
    451
    Joined:
    22 Jan 2019
    They have been talking about a railway to Estepona and Marbella for the last 20 years. Think all the plans have been dismissed as too expensive. Any update out there?
     
  16. Wychwood93

    Wychwood93 Member

    Messages:
    222
    Joined:
    25 Jan 2018
    Location:
    Burton. Dorset.
    It is all about money at the end of the day - what you say is fine. The coastal route really needs a 15 minute service - your post and mine - should there be a LAV extension missing Fuengirola but including Marbella and beyond, well, even more money! Those in Marbella and beyond would welcome both - in particular a more direct service to the airport - the locals would be in favour of a local (coastal) link from Marbella (and beyond) to Fuengirola, Torremolinos etc.
     
  17. Cloud Strife

    Cloud Strife Member

    Messages:
    46
    Joined:
    25 Feb 2014
    Would it be that expensive in the grand scheme of things? Doubling the existing elevated section would probably be a no-go with locals, particularly with Los Boliches already rather blighted by the view of the line there.

    Another advantage to putting it in a tunnel would be connecting up the area around the fairgrounds with the sea, and getting rid of those horrible noise barriers along Paseo Jesús Santos Rein. It would only have to be about 1.5km of extra tunnel, so surely affordable when compared to the cost of building some of the LAV infrastructure in Andalucia.

    As you say though, there's conflict between those that want quick train connections to the airport and those that actually use the railway more than twice a year. Even if the journey time is ~60 minutes to Marbella, tourists will still use it over buses, and commuters will prefer the train over buses as there won't be any problem with traffic. An LAV line that avoids town centres is a waste of time, IMO, as witnessed by the presence of the very strange LAV station in Antequera-Santa Ana.

    Latest news, incidentally, is that the Spanish government have only committed 140,000 Euro to continue "studying" the extension and that no decision has been made.
     
    Last edited: 14 Jun 2019 at 07:46
  18. Cricketer8for9

    Cricketer8for9 Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    Can I thank, once again, the contributors to this thread. I’ve been much enlightened following what was a simple question asked casually.
     
  19. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

    Messages:
    3,453
    Joined:
    20 May 2012
    Location:
    Torbay
    I believe it is intended to be the replacement 'country junction' on the new line in place of Bobadilla on the old mainline to Malaga. On pre high speed Andalusian tours in the 1980s, I recall this as the Westbury-like hub of this part of of the network, with many connections possible, including stops on long distance trains. I stayed the night at Bobadilla in a little hotel near the station on one occasion. Bobadilla remains as a local station of course, but it would have been impossible to route the new high speed alignment through it.
     
  20. Gordon

    Gordon Member

    Messages:
    925
    Joined:
    11 Feb 2011
    Location:
    Surrey
    I travelled on the line in 1969 in a metre gauge Billard railcar and haven't been on it since...
     
  21. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

    Messages:
    4,384
    Joined:
    3 May 2015
    Thanks for this interesting thread - I have memories of very small me using the line when on holiday in 1993 (from Benelmadena to Torremolinos and Malaga), notable as both:

    -My first experience of non-UK rail travel
    -The track I've been on, but not been on for the longest time since
     
  22. Wychwood93

    Wychwood93 Member

    Messages:
    222
    Joined:
    25 Jan 2018
    Location:
    Burton. Dorset.
    I agree that doubling the overhead (raised section) could well be a local issue and, as you say, a tunnel could resolve all sorts of stuff - double-track and all the way to Torreblanca (ish) could be better. A tad disruptive, yes, overall worthwhile? Yes. If I happened to be them, I would run with it. Double-track there could perhaps yield a 15-min frequency?
     
    Last edited: 15 Jun 2019 at 18:43
  23. route101

    route101 Established Member

    Messages:
    4,024
    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Interesting , did not realise it had a service from Madrid
     
  24. 437.001

    437.001 Member

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    11 Sep 2013
    Hello there.

    I am a Spanish forumer, so I can help out with a bit of data.

    That was done between 2001 and 2009.

    The sections from Campamento Benítez (closed station) to La Colina, from El Pinillo to the eastern tunnel mouth of Arroyo de la Miel, and from Torremuelle to just before Torreblanca stations were doubled.
    Also the stretch from Malaga María Zambrano "low level" (the main Malaga railway station) to Aeropuerto was doubled, and the stretches from María Zambrano to Los Prados and from Los Prados to Aeropuerto were put underground.
    This was done with a two-fold purpose. One, to make room for the arrival of the high speed line to Malaga, and two, to allow an enlargement of the Malaga airport.

    The company which started the project of this line was called "The Malaga & Gibraltar Railway" (the name was in English). Need I say more?
    It never came to fulfil its original goal of reaching the Rock or even La Linea. Then I think the company went broke before the works even started, and it was all carried out I think by a Belgian society, which opened in metric gauge the stretch from Malaga to Fuengirola. After the Spanish war (1936-1939), progressive nationalisation came, and the line fell in the hands of EFE (the narrow gauge equivalent to Renfe, which was later renamed Feve - and has ended up being merged with Renfe). By the late 1960, the line was becoming a bit strained, particularly in summer, as it couldn't cope with the rising number of passengers, so it was decided to re-gauge it to Iberian, which was done in 1975, including a new stretch from San Julian station (now closed, not far from Plaza Mayor) to Malaga Maria Zambrano and Malaga Centro Alameda stations (originally called Guadalmedina).
    The original metric gauge line between San Julian and Malaga used to follow the coastline, and the original Malaga station was located right at the bus terminal of the old port, very close to Plaza de la Marina.

    The Malaga to Fuengirola line is now one of the busiest commuter railway lines in Spain, definitely the busiest outside Madrid and Barcelona.

    It is to be noted that the Malaga to Fuengirola line used to have two sister lines, built by a different company and closed in the late 1960s (iirc), which went from San Julian to Coin, and from Malaga to Velez-Malaga then Ventas de Zafarraya (including a stretch in rack railway -of which I think the section around Ventas de Zafarraya has been partially reopened as a tourist small gauge train). It really was a pity that these lines were closed, as now they would be quite busy.

    At times Renfe does that. I really don't know why they do this. I seem to remember that this has not always been the case.

    I'm not sure they ever planned to build it as far as Cadiz.

    That was a much more recent idea, which for now has been put to rest.
    Not the section between Fuengirola and Algeciras though. There's the intention of building it. The problem is its cost, huge.

    No, not all of them.

    The Torreblanca tunnel was built in the 1970's, as they built a short new stretch to eliminate some narrow bends (and a level crossing? my memory's a bit hazy there).
    At least one of the tunnels between Torreblanca and Torremuelle is new (you can tell the remains of an old viaduct heading in a different direction), and the twin single-tube tunnel had the old metric gauge then-abandoned tunnel (the one inland) regauged and reopened, while the tube that's closer to the sea is from the 1970's regauge plan.

    The Torremolinos and Benalmadena urban tunnels are from the 1970's, and sadly in single track, they are the biggest bottlenecks on this line, as doubling them will be tremendously expensive. Torremolinos station used to be a street level station, right where it is now, but street level.

    San Julian station closed, Los Prados station closed too (the platforms on the Fuengirola line, not the ones on the Alora line), and Guadalhorce, Aeropuerto were put underground.
    Also San Andres station was replaced by the underground (and British-sounding) Victoria Kent (the station was named after a Spanish politician and lawyer, which by the way, I reckon has no relation to the neighbouring quarter whatsoever - no nearby street or similar that I'm aware of).

    No, it definitely wasn't opened much later than the rest of the regauged line... jjust one year after it was regauged - in 1976.

    It won't, it's actually a bit of an upgrade, just €4 million. Escalators, lifts, higher platforms... Not much.

    Not only, it was that and the doubling of the other sections that I mentioned.

    The final goal is not Marbella, but Estepona, and then Algeciras. The question is in which century.

    The current studies by Adif (the Spanish would-be equivalent to Network Rail) ar focussing only on a commuter line, the strectch in the study is Fuengirola-Marbella. There are two base routes, and intermediate versions of them, but all commuter rail. My favourute one is the coastal, obviously, as it is the one that will generate more passengers.

    That said, this will still take decades, as the investment will be massive.

    AND it will also require a quite extensive upgrade of the section between Aeropuerto and Fuengirola, with some passing loops and the doubling of the tunnels, as calling all stations from Marbella (not to say further away) would make travel times longer.
    It will also require the rebuilding of the Los Boliches viaduct and station, and probably something at Torreblanca (the Torreblanca tunnel is very narrow, and there's no room to double as the area is quite built, so probably reopening the old narrow-gauge platform there could do).

    There's not much need of high speed rail in the Costa del Sol when you have a high speed line terminating at Malaga.
    The real need there is commuter rail.

    I'm not sure that it hosted Talgos? There certainly used to be Madrid to Fuengirola trains, but I think those were class 432 or 444 EMUs (Electrotren).

    The connection with the Malaga Metro exists at Malaga Maria Zambrano.

    There's the plan of moving Malaga Centro station to Plaza de La Marina, where it will connect with the metro, which is an area that has room enough for at least four tracks. Malaga Centro is the worst bottleneck on the Malaga commuter rail network, because not only is it single track, which leaves little time to reverse, but its platforms are short (only 100 metres, when the modern Adif standards for cmmuter rail stations are 200 metres).

    The ultimate goal is and should be Algeciras. Count the population and the numbers are there. The problem's the money.

    Of course not, but it would require a lengthy closure.

    Ideally there should be trains terminating at Mijas and semi-fast trains terminating at Marbella (or Estepona). If ever Algeciras is reached, those trains should be faster.

    None for now, aside from the study on the routes under the former government.
    The current one hasn't spoken about it yet... but the minister is from Valencia, so they are tweaking thinks on the side of the Costa Blanca, which has similar transports issues.

    Mind the gradient!
     
  25. Cricketer8for9

    Cricketer8for9 Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    437.001. Many thanks. Used it to the airport today, lots going there but still plenty for whom the airport was not the end destination.
     
  26. Wychwood93

    Wychwood93 Member

    Messages:
    222
    Joined:
    25 Jan 2018
    Location:
    Burton. Dorset.
    Agreed - good additional detail.
     

Share This Page