History of Málaga to Fuengirola Railway
by Chris Chaplow
The first plans for this Malaga to Fuengirola cercanias line, in the Royal Decree of 3 April 1878, contemplated construction of the Málaga-Campamento line via Churriana, Fuengirola, Marbella, and Estepona and linking the iron ore mines of Marbella with the ports of Málaga and Gibraltar.
The concession was awarded to José Casado and Málaga and Gibraltar Railway Company of 46 Lombard Street, London. Despite acquiring a four-year extension to the concession in 1894, the "Malaga and Gibraltar Railway Company" had only constructed one kilometre of line in Málaga, earthworks in Fuengirola and a 400-metre tunnel between Estepona and Manilva which can still be seen today in the Bahía Dorada urbanisation.
In 1912 the concession for the entire Málaga-Algeciras-Cadiz extension was re-awarded to José Nagel, who only managed to construct the part of the line between San Julian and Fuengirola. More detail on this project>
The unfinished line was taken over by Compañia Ferrocarriles Surbanos de Málaga (FSM), a company of Belgium capital founded in 1905. FSM's first line had opened in 1908 from Málaga to Velez-Málaga and closed in 1968. The extension to Ventas de Zafarraya opened in 1921 and closed in 1960. The planned extension to Granada was never constructed. FSM's second line was from Málaga to Coín via Churriana and Alhaurín. It opened in 1912 and closed in 1965.
FSM's third line was from Málaga to Fuengirola. It took over the earlier unfinished works and made a junction with the Coín line at San Julian. It opened in 1916 and the stations were at El Perro (Huelin), San Julian, Torremolinos, Arroyo de la Miel, Benalmádena and Fuengirola.
FSM was taken over by the state company Explotacion de Ferrocarriles por el Estado (EFE) in 1938, which became FEVE - Ferrocarriles de Via Estrecha (narrow gauge railways), the state-owned company created in 1965 that ran the various narrow gauge railways of Spain, whereas RENFE, created in 1941, ran the Spanish standard broad-gauge railways.
After various closures the Málaga (port station) to Fuengirola line re-opened in 1958 with a green coloured diesel train known locally as "tren FEVE".
Due to the rapid development of Torremolinos, Benalmádena, and Fuengirola in the tourist boom of the 1960s and the resulting traffic congestion, it was announced by public works minister Silva Muñoz on a visit to Málaga in 1970 that the line would be modernised. It was closed in August the following year and was handed over to RENFE to be upgraded.
The line was widened to Spanish standard gauge, it was electrified, parts were made double track (the original plan was for all of them to be included) and bridges were improved. The Málaga terminus station went underground at the main Málaga-Córdoba station (now called Málaga Maria Zambrano), rather than the FEVE Malaga port station previously used. Torremolinos and Fuengirola stations also went underground. New viaducts were constructed over Guadalhorce River, Pan Triste and Arroyo Honda. There was also a 62-span high-level section constructed at the entrance to Fuengirola so as to allow road traffic to continue underneath. There were 12 tunnels constructed on the hillside above Benalmádena and Torremolinos.
The line was re-opened on 31 July 1975 with seven stations: Málaga, San Andres, Campo de Golf-Campamento Benítez, Torremolinos, Arroyo de la Miel, Los Boliches and Fuengirola. One year later the underground single line spur extension to Alameda was opened. the service was 70 trains a day, every half hour from 6am to 11pm.
In 1987 a loop link in Malaga was constructed so that trains could run from Fuengirola to Córdoba and from Fuengirola to Madrid. The practice was dropped a few years later when freight lines were remodelled and the link was removed. Until the arrival of the AVE in 2007 some summer TALGO trains from Madrid changed direction in Málaga station to continue to Fuengirola.
Other post 1975 upgrades included the extension loop to include Málaga airport. Underground stations were added at Victoria Kent and Guadalhorce. The Campo de Golf-Campamento Benítez station was moved and re-opened as Plaza Mayor in 2004 after construction of the shopping complex. The Malaga airport station was re-located underground as part of the Terminal 3 works and the line between the airport and Guadalhorce station was moved underground to allow for the construction of the second runway.