The PSOE in the Cabildo de Tenerife voted against the two motions presented to the plenary session by the opposition to promote the South train and include the infrastructure -emerged in 1997 to unite Santa Cruz and Adeje in a parallel route to the TF-1 motorway –, in the Railway Network of General Interest (RFIG) of Spain. Thus, the Grupo Insular Socialista contradicts the support of its colleagues in the Congress of Deputies and the Parliament of the Canary Islands for similar initiatives. The abstention of Ciudadanos, which is also part of the island government, allowed both proposals to be approved. The proponent groups, CC and PP, voted in favor, while the socialists and Sí Podemos Canarias, a formation that supports the government from outside, voted against.
«You (CC) know the technical, legal and economic difficulties of this project»
The motions had 15 votes in favor (CC-PNC and PP) while the two Ciudadanos councilors abstained and the PSOE and Sí Podemos (13) rejected them. It should be remembered that this last group only had two of its three directors since the replacement for Ruth Acosta, who resigned at the January plenary session, has not yet taken office. The abstention of Cs prevented the tie (15-15) and the definitive resolution through the quality vote of the president, Pedro Martín.
Martín decided from the outset to debate jointly –although voting independently– these two motions and a third, presented by Enrique Arriaga (Cs), to promote the Insular Plan for Sustainable Mobility (the PSOE did vote in favor of this). The president defended that the infrastructure of the south had to be included in the roadmap for the future of mobility in Tenerife. Although Manuel Fernández (PP) defended that in this initiative the word train did not appear anywhere. María José Belda, spokesperson for the purple formation, alluded to saving time in the discussion, with this 3 in 1. With the endorsement of the secretary. Both popular and nationalists criticized this grouping of the motions and the popular Fernández recorded in the minutes his rejection, considering it a “lack of respect” for the other groups.
“What we decide here today is irrelevant; the key to the southern train is in Madrid»
The decision does not seem to have gone very well for the government group because in the end it lost the vote due to the abstention of Ciudadanos. The amendments to the entirety of the original text of Sí Podemos Canarias and the Socialist Group were rejected. The final agreement requests “that the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda include the train project in the south of Tenerife in the Railway Network of General Interest (RFIG) as a preliminary step to obtain European funds.” In addition “it is required that the Government of Spain promote its construction, and that it provide it financially in an adequate way, as well as accelerate its commissioning.” The Cabildo is also requested, through the Mobility area, to “urgently convene all groups throughout the month of March to establish the roadmap for guided transport on the Island of Tenerife, as approved in the June 2021 plenary session. Finally, “this strategy must be completed before the end of the first half of 2022.”
The third related motion, at the proposal of Ciudadanos, was supported by all the groups except Sí Podemos Canarias, which voted against. It includes, among other things, the construction and commissioning of the BUS-HOV lanes on the TF-1 and TF-5 within the Insular Sustainable Mobility Plan.
María José Belda, spokesperson for Sí Podemos Canarias, has insisted on maintaining the historic position of her formation. She endorsed by the struggle “for decades” of environmental groups. She requests a “real participation” of the citizenry because she doubts the “social consensus” that the other groups speak of. A consultation not only about the train but also regarding the mobility needs in the 31 municipalities of the Island. Regarding the approval of Podemos in Madrid, it was conclusive: «Someone from Valencia (in relation to the deputy who has supported the southern train in Congress) cannot decide for the people of Tenerife». Belda concludes: “Perhaps the seat that is still there has something to do with it (by Alberto Rodríguez, from Tenerife, disqualified from the position)”. He wondered out loud how many expropriations would be necessary to make the southern train a reality.
«On this issue, Sí Podemos does not want, Cs cannot and the PSOE neither wants nor can»
Counselor Javier Rodríguez Medina was the spokesman for the PSOE and the one in charge of defending his position. Although he made clear the party’s support for the southern train, he also argued that “it is not the right time, among other things because of the high investment.” He proposed general mobility for the Island “and not for a single corridor on TF-1, the South.” His partner Aarón Afonso took over to criticize the “political tactics and lack of coherence of the opposition.” He later snapped at the Canarian Coalition: “You governed for many years and are perfectly aware of the technical, legal and economic difficulties of the project.” He added: “Politics is the art of the possible.”
Enrique Arriaga (Ciudadanos) attacked CC and PP for their history “of inaction for many years with the train when they could promote it” and Fernández (PP) specifically for “doing a campaign tour of the Island” in the face of the rejection of the popular that He insisted that “they called me.” From his defense of the motion on the Mobility Plan, he concluded; “The decision we make here today is irrelevant because the key is in financing and it has already been decided in Madrid.” Despite this, he abstained because “I cannot vote in favor of those who have been opportunists such as CC and PP but neither against it because this initiative is ours, Citizens, in all institutions.” He has once again asked for “the essential consensus on what the 21st century project in Tenerife entails.” This led him to withdraw a motion in this same sense in the January plenary session.
Manuel Fernández, popular spokesman, argued: “It seems that there is a rush to resolve this. I would like to hear the voice of the president so that he confirms what he stated in 2020 in the media, that he was in favor of the train from the South ». Martín did not respond although he wanted it to be reflected in the minutes that what Fernández said was not true. This appealed to the historical moment to be able to develop the infrastructure with the recovery funds from Europe. And he sentenced: “They don’t care about Tenerife’s interest but to cling to their armchairs.”
Carlos Alonso, spokesman for CC, also valued: «If, as they have said, there is only money to build one of the two trains, the one in the South of Tenerife or the one in Gran Canaria, and there is consensus there and not here, it is clear which one will come out go ahead”. Alonso describes the final agreement as “important so that Tenerife is not left behind in terms of rail transport.” He regrets that the PSOE has voted against “because of the threats by Si Podemos Canarias to break the government pact.” He summed up: “Yes, we can, they don’t want to, Ciudadanos can’t, and the PSOE neither wants nor can.” Alonso values: The only ones who oppose the project are the PSOE and Sí Podemos in Tenerife».
«It cannot be that someone from Valencia, even from my party, decides for the people of Tenerife»
In 1997, studies began on the Southern train, which should already be in service in 2017. The administrations have spent more than 30 million euros in drafting the project and other technical studies. Its initial cost was 1,800 million and today it is estimated at more than 3,000. It will link Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Costa Adeje in 39 minutes, with seven stops and as many interchanges in 80 kilometers of route (eight of viaduct and 22 in tunnels), an average frequency of 15 minutes and 67,000 passengers per day. Except for Yes We Can, all the political parties support this work, but after almost 25 years, not a single rail has been laid.