The Cuevas-Pulpí bit of the AVE was going to be contracted out in the last quarter of 2014, according to a promise made by the Minister for Development Ana Pastor during her visit to Almería last year.
Well, it wasn’t.
The final meeting of the Council of Ministers in 2014 came and went, and the 12.5km stretch of high speed railway wasn’t discussed. Excuses vary, but eventually an official Development statement said that the issue was left off the agenda as the paperwork wasn’t ready.
The PP senator for Almería, Rafael Hernando, told local newspapers that the issue was certainly on the agenda for the first January meeting of the Council of Ministers, held last Friday, and the budget would be approved then.
Well, it wasn’t. This time, there were “technical issues” with the project that impeded the Council of Ministers from discussing the project.
Hernando urged patience on Saturday and assured reporters that the paperwork was being revised by the engineers and all will be ready by the end of the month, at most. Four months after Ana Pastor, a senior government minister, promised it would be finished.
The PSOE senator for Almería Juan Carlos Pérez Navas laughed when asked about it. “The PP ended 2014 lying to us and started 2015 by deceiving us” he said. “The central government has no interest whatsoever in Almería province and doesn’t want to spend a cent on infrastructure”. (Although his party when in power weren’t much better, ah hem).
The various party leaders have all rolled out their platitudes and increpations, none of which I can be bothered to repeat here.
So far, we have the billion euro tunnels under the Sierra Cabrera (both sealed for the long term) and large bridges down to Los Gallardos. The rest of the high speed train project lies abandoned, with no money to finish it or even maintain what is built. Other critical infrastructure in the province – the maternity hospital, the Almanzora motorway, the Garrucha -Vera dual carriageway, schools etc- are half built and forgotten about for lack of cash to finish the projects. And instead of downgrading the project to a standard train line, political pride and machismo means the project has to remain as a ruinously expensive AVE.