Almería’s Mayor warns we “can forget about the AVE” until the next decade as budget cuts bite

The Mayor of Almería, Luis Rogelio Rodríguez-Comendador, said today in a keynote speech at the influential “Foro Europeo” forum in Seville that we in Almería can “realistically” forget about getting the AVE within at least the next decade. Luis is a PP politician, the same as the national government, but he accused both the PP and the PSOE of make vague promises about the AVE with no real desire or money to complete the project.

In a pessimistic speech to influential politicians, journalists and economists from across the country, Luis said that “I no longer even dream of seeing the AVE arrive whilst I still work in politics”.

He gave a short and brief summary of events:

  • To bring the AVE into Almería city will cost a minimum of 300 million euros, something which “we don’t have at the moment, and Almería realistically has no chance of getting without central government help”. (He is talking about building the new train station and connecting it to the provincial AVE network by a tunnel underneath the city).
  • No major government politician from either party has given any firm dates for even signing the work contracts for the next phases of the AVE.
  • Madrid has scaled back on all major investment works for the next decade, and has only made vague promises about the Almería train section being included in what little is left.
  • There isn’t any money assigned anywhere to the AVE for 2012, and the 2013 budget is nebulous, to say the least (excepting for the bit under construction).

In short, concluded the Mayor, his council will not make any plans for the AVE, and his town does not expect to see any firm commitment to the train-line until after the 2019 elections, at best.

Luis added that he is cancelling a projected new Palacio de Congresos (conference centre) in Almería as the budget has a hole of 40 million euros in it, and he won’t authorise work to start until he has the money to complete the work, and pleaded with central government for more funds to continue restoring La Alcazaba, Europe’s second largest Arabian fortress after the Alhambra in Granada.

In short, it looks as if we will end up with the shortest high speed train line in the world, from Garrucha to the other side of the Sorbas tunnel. Although the sections up to Murcia are being planned out and studied, it appears there is still no firm contract signed to commence works. From the other side of the tunnel, towards Almería, it looks as if the AVE will, if ever connected to Murcia, terminate in an industrial park in Níjar.

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