The new rail link between Inca and Manacor moved a step closer to becoming reality yesterday. Balearic Minister for Public Works, Francesc Quetglas, said that the new rail link could be in operation as early as April 2003. The Manacor link will enable people to travel from Palma to Manacor by rail in 55 minutes. The Minister, accompanied by the director of the SFM Majorcan railway company, Antonio Santos, announced yesterday that work on the new rail project will start in January and that the 4'417 million peseta project is expected to be completed by April, 2003. Just over 30 kilometres of railway track has to be laid or renovated and, according to Antonio Santos, the construction of the Manacor line is in fact the first phase of a project to re-open the rail link to Arta. On top of the actual construction costs, the Balearic government has spent 1'000 million pesetas on purchasing the rail track and crossings. But while the project is ready to role, the planners still have to decide on an alternative route for the railway round Petra. The local council opposes plans for the train to go through the centre of the town and architects of the project are studying the viability of tunnelling the train underground to avoid the town centre. The Minister for Public Works said that once the railway has been re-established to Manacor, the service will be extended to Cala Rajada and a viability study carried out on a Sa Pobla to Alcudia rail link. Francesc Quetglas also added that the government is still keen on constructing a rail link from the centre of Palma to the Balearic University on the Valldemossa road. However, the project is a complicated one and would cause serious disruption for parts of Palma with a number of tunnels having to be built.

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