The “lack of political consensus” hinders the railway project in Tenerife


Industrial engineer Andrés Muñoz de Dios, manager of Metropolitano de Tenerife for 20 years, was pessimistic about solutions to mobility problems in Tenerife. During his intervention in the Mobility, Transport and Decarbonization Cycle, organized by the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country of Tenerife, in collaboration with the Canary Islands Cultural Foundation of Engineering and Architecture Betancourt y Molina, he analyzed the pending projects on the island that are not they have come true due to “the lack of political consensus,” he said. For Muñoz de Dios, the trains from the south and north of the island are “perfectly justifiable” and the political agreement is essential to get the money from the European Union funds for the recovery, “because what is not spent here, It will be spent in other regions, which do have the political consensus that we do not have here, ”said the engineer.

Fernando Davara, Civil Engineer:

Fernando Davara, Civil Engineer: “Mobility in Tenerife will not improve until the indiscriminate use of private vehicles is restricted”

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In his opinion, Tenerife has “unacceptable” levels of congestion and the solution, he argued, is not to build more roads. “It is true that in Tenerife there is a notable delay in improving the road system, but it has been proven that private transport alone is not the solution to all our mobility problems and that public transport is essential,” he clarified.

In the case of the metropolitan area, he pointed out that it is necessary to create bus lanes and “here the municipalities unfortunately do not take a proactive attitude so that public transport has an attractive commercial speed”. In this regard, he recalled that the Cabildo, since 2000, opted for the creation of the tram, which on its lines 1 and 2 moves about 60,000 passengers a day, almost 16,000,000 a year, after 14 years of operation. It is a “fully consolidated system and, fortunately, it is a national and international benchmark,” he acknowledged.

In addition, pending projects in Tenerife are the expansion of the tram network, the southern train and the northern train. “Both are part of an island network, of an alternative vision of rail transport for the Island, but they have clearly different characteristics,” he said.

Technical and non-political criteria

“Line 1 of Metro de Tenerife was something extraordinary, because it had an exceptionally short maturation period for the standards of Tenerife, the Canary Islands, Spain and even internationally,” he said. According to the industrial engineer, in 2000 the Cabildo decided to contract the drafting of the project, only four years later construction began and three years later it began to operate. That is, they built it in just seven years and it opened in June 2007.

Since its inauguration, the tram has been successful in demand above expectations, recognized Muñoz, who argued that this success is due to the fact that “the layout and configuration were decided with technical and not political criteria.” At this point, he stressed that “from the beginning it does not have an operating deficit, because it covers expenses with income” and this is also “a unique case in Spain”. This absence of deficit is achieved, as he explained, thanks to an adequate layout, a reasonable rate and efficient management, because “it is managed by a public company, but with private management criteria; the same scheme that is proposed for the trains of the south and the north ”.

In relation to the planned extensions, he began by explaining the advantages of the extension of Line 1 from Avenida de La Trinidad to the airport, which provides for three stops and would provide service to the residents of that area of ​​La Laguna, the airport and a car park deterrent. “This line meets the requirements to be an expansion that is justified, but it has been blocked because minority groups, who are affected by the infrastructure, oppose it and, unfortunately, because of the way we manage in this land or in this country, the interest of the one who is harmed, even if it is a minority, usually prevails over the vast majority that would benefit, “he said.

Muñoz de Dios added that the extension of Line 2 to La Gallega is “a similar case”, but it is “even worse, because it is shorter, has less cost and affects more populated neighborhoods, whose inhabitants could move from La Gallega to Santa Cruz or La Laguna in the same time that one does from Santa Cruz to La Laguna ”. In this case, “groups of merchants and taxi drivers in the area opposed and the municipal authorities decided that it was not done,” he recalled.

Another potential tram line would be in the lower part of Santa Cruz, from the El Meridiano Shopping Center through La Salle and Méndez Núñez until it ends in the Muelle Norte area. The expert affirmed that this will be the line with the highest number of passengers per kilometer, but “the Cabildo has not yet promoted its execution, but it is not seen with good eyes from the City Council, simply because of the merchants who may be affected.” He also clarified that a possible extension to Las Teresitas, “was ruled out because it did not meet the requirements of economic technical justification, because it had a high operating cost and the annual demand would be small as it was concentrated exclusively on weekends in the summer months” . Finally, he cited the project of a line from the area of ​​the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria to the neighborhood of Añaza, but of which there are not even detailed studies yet.

Lack of consensus for trains

The engineer stressed that in the case of trains “we are on the other side of the coin” of what happened with the tram. “We began with the studies and processing of the territorial plan in 2001 and it was approved in 2015 and we have not yet laid a stone” and stressed that “it has taken 14 years to approve a territorial plan.” Currently, projects are drafted and ready to run. “The great handicap is the lack of political consensus. It cannot be that the political parties when they are governing say one thing and when they are in the opposition they say the opposite. We miss a little more high-mindedness on the part of those who govern us to agree on strategic issues for the Island. Unfortunately, they are doing a very short-term reading, “he said.

The one who was head of the tram recalled that the recovery funds that the European Union has enabled represent “a great opportunity” to carry out these projects, “it is simply necessary for the rulers to agree.”

Regarding the southern train, he explained that the route, parallel to the highway, starts in Santa Cruz and ends in Costa Adeje, with seven interchanges and some garages in Fasnia. According to him, the main problem to carry it out is the conflict with the highway, because the easement zone of both infrastructures means condemning a strip of 200 meters wide. “What is needed is open-mindedness to find the most appropriate solution for the island’s interests,” he added.

The project plans, at a cost of 2,200 million euros, to meet a demand of 17.6 million passengers per year. The route is 80 kilometers in double track, of which 47 will be in viaduct or tunnel, “due to the orography and to avoid the effect that a railway entails in the urban entrances of Santa Cruz and Adeje.”

The planned routes will be 39 minutes with a speed of 220 kilometers per hour and, in addition, it includes a 33 megawatt wind and photovoltaic park to feed all the consumption of the railway network, “which makes it completely sustainable,” he remarked.

Muñoz de Dios added that “another singularity that the project has is that, in order to solve other types of problems for the Island, it includes a parallel service gallery for the distribution of critical infrastructures that the Island may need, such as fiber optic lines, water distribution pipes or a high voltage line ”.

Regarding the northern train, he asserted that “this project is much greener, despite the fact that” from the point of view of necessity it is more peremptory than that of the southern train “, but for reasons of” political criteria “it was decided postpone. The studies and procedures for this project began in 2003, but “the Special Territorial Plan for Infrastructures, initially approved in 2013, was never brought to the plenary session of the Cabildo for final approval due to lack of political consensus.”

As he also explained, the route is designed in the shape of a Y, with a station in Santa Cruz, from where the trains from the south and the north would depart, in such a way that passengers will be able to go directly from North to South without the foolishness of making changes. “This would make many people from the North, who today do not even consider working in the South, attend to job offers in the South,” he said.

This project plans, at a cost of 1,140 million euros, to meet a demand of 10 million passengers per year. The route is 36 kilometers in double track, of which 17 will be in viaduct or tunnel. With a total of six interchanges, the northern train offers the same speed as the southern one with 220 kilometers per hour and would also have a gallery of services. The journey from Los Realejos to Santa Cruz would take 30 minutes.

Financing

To explain the need for the investment, the engineer used to compare what has been done in other parts of Spain with high-speed rail infrastructures, “which have been paid with Spanish taxes, which, for the most part, except in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​they are deficient ”. As he clarified, in general, all the data make it clear that the southern train far exceeds the profitability of the rest of the high-speed trains in the State. Regarding the comparison with commuter projects, the southern train has a demand above the average of most.

Muñoz de Dios concluded that “if the State decided that it was good for the country to build these infrastructures, it would be even more so to build the Southern train” and insisted that, if a scale is made with the efficiency data, “it would be the first project on the list at the national level ”.



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