Ongoing Costa del Sol traffic jam affects 4 million Andalucians

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Costa del Sol traffic

With a growing population, without any changes to the road network or additional public transport services, traffic congestion on the Costa del Sol is increasingly a drama for users. Four million Andalucians are therefore regularly stuck in long traffic jams on what should be the fastest connection along the coast between Motril in the east and Algeciras in the west.

The biggest problem occurs between the coastal towns of Fuengirola and Marbella. There the A-7 is becoming overloaded due to a lack of capacity. Travelling along this coastal road is becoming increasingly unbearable due to frequent traffic congestion. Travellers are sometimes stuck for hours on a route that would normally take only 20 minutes, a fraction of that time.

Trainless alternative

One of the biggest pain points is the lack of a train connection along the coast as an alternative to the congested roads. The existing train only takes travellers between Malaga and Fuengirola. Furthermore, the area is plagued by the absence of an effective public transport system, which contributes to traffic woes. Even other avenues do not offer a real solution. The only alternative to the above-mentioned route is the AP-7 toll road. But that is financially too unattractive for many people.

Political call for action

The Andalucian President, Juanma Moreno, has urged a solution to these traffic problems during a meeting with the Málaga Business Circle. He emphasised the need to invest in infrastructure, including a train link that would ease traffic pressure. “The largest urban agglomeration in Andalucia and even Spain extends from La Herradura (Granada) to Algeciras. There are almost four million people [both the registered population and the tourists who come and go] who do not have a railway connection, and the minister says it is not profitable, because of the many stops,” Moreno said of the coastal train. It is not the first time that municipal or regional administrators have hinted at this. The recent rejection of the coastal train extension project by the Ministry of Transport has only made the need for a political solution more urgent.

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Economic and demographic growth

The growing population and economic activity in the region only make the situation more dire. Studies show that the province of Málaga will welcome around 300,000 new residents in the coming years. This only increases the pressure on the existing infrastructure. In 2023, more than 14,000 new residents settled in the region, almost half of all new residents of Andalucia. In addition, there are more than 14 million tourists, who generate economic activity of more than €19.1 billion and 130,000 jobs.

Málaga Airport received 4.5 million people in the first quarter of 2024 alone. This makes it the fastest growing airport in Spain and one of the three infrastructure points with the most passenger flows of AENA in Spain. Furthermore, data from the Junta de Andalucía shows that the province of Málaga experiences the most population growth every year. The population is increasingly spreading east of the provincial capital Málaga. That is why Francisco Salado, the President of the Province, always advocates expanding the railway lines on both sides: one way to Algeciras and the other way to Motril.

Historical requirement for improvement

The call for better connections on the Costa del Sol is not new. For decades, there have been calls for investments in infrastructure, including an improved rail system. Despite previous promises and plans, the situation remains unchanged, with growing frustration among the population and political leaders demanding action. While the section between Fuengirola and San Pedro de Alcántara initially caused problems, the section between Vélez-Málaga and Málaga has now been added.

Also read: “Expensive and complex”: Spanish government about the coastal train from Málaga to Marbella

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