The Public Works Ministry is this month expected to put out to tender contracts for the extension of Málaga’s metro system as far as the Hospital Civil. At present, these are expected to be awarded in May next year.

The city of Málaga and the regional government have been negotiating over the nature of the metro extension for months, and news of the contract offer has come ahead of any final agreement between the two. The Junta de Andalucía has also dismissed criticism that the process of assessing and awarding the contract will fall within the run-up to next year’s municipal elections; the machinery of administrative management, it says, continues and does not stop for the elections.

The plan, as outlined in May 2017, is to build a 1.8 kilometre extension to Line 2 from El Corte Inglés to the hospital. The work is expected to take two years and will create around 500 jobs. The project, a third of which will be underground with the remainder on the surface, will complete the final phase of the system as agreed in 2013.

Last month, regional president Susana Díaz addressed the continuing refusal of Málaga’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, to accept the plans for the work as they stand. “Don’t throw stones in its way,” was the message, but the mayor continues to demand the lines should run completely underground which, he says, is the wishes of local residents.

Meanwhile, the existing metro services continue to attract customers. The total number of passengers transported in the first nine months if this year was up nine per cent on the same period last year at 4.45 million. The total for the third quarter of this year is over 1.3 million, an increase of 13.7 per cent on July to September in 2017.