Will There Ever Be A Direct Train Between Malaga And Marbella?

Malaga and Marbella are both incredibly popular destinations for both tourists and foreign second homeowners alike. They are two of the most well-known resorts on the Costa del Sol and are just 60km apart.

But despite a huge number of projects being proposed and then rejected over the last 162 years, there is still not a direct train line between the two resorts.

Recently the Spanish Transport Minister quashed another proposed direct train line between Malaga and Marbella by arguing against it in the public sphere.

So will there ever be a direct train between Malaga and Marbella? Here’s what you need to know:

The Current Situation

Despite being just 60km apart there currently is no direct train line between Malaga and Marbella. This is frustrating for travellers as journeying between these two locations is a very common route.

And with the region’s largest airport being in Malaga, this also means that anyone travelling to Marbella from overseas will have to get from Malaga to Marbella by car, taxi, bus or airport shuttle bus, which can be slow going, especially when there’s high traffic.

Why Isn’t There A Direct Train Between Malaga and Marbella?

There has always been a demand for a train link between Malaga and Marbella. In fact, the first discussion about this route began a whopping 162 years ago. In that period there have been seven plans that were seriously proposed, but each of these ultimately fell through.

The most recent of these serious plans was put together in late 2023. This plan proposed  a new underground railway line connecting the AVE line in Málaga with Marbella. If successful this underground line would not only have connected the two city centres but also  the airport, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola and Mijas.

The reason an underground line was proposed as the best option for this route was because the Costa Del Sol is so built up that there just isn’t enough viable space to build an overground train line.

The route was slated to be a 47km line that would run underground for 88 percent of the route and travel at speeds of up to160 km per hour.

Why Did This Plan Fail?

It was recently announced that these plans have been put on hold. Again. This is frustrating for both local residents and tourists alike who are looking for a fast and effective route between the two cities.

The reason? According to Spain's Transport Minister, Óscar Puente, it would be too expensive and difficult to construct. What’s more although the plans have been proposed and discussed seriously by the respective councils in both cities, there have been no impact plans made to back up the scheme. According to Mr Puente "there is not a single piece of paper to work with," and there aren’t "feasibility studies or environmental impact statements" in place to support the scheme.

Despite no progress having been made and no official paperwork being in place, the government has spent over €600,000 on the proposed coastal train scheme. Noone knows where that money has gone! 

The fact is that there are several problems with the proposed Malaga-Marbella train line that may yet prove insurmountable. We do know that the government is continuing to study wants to improve connectivity in the area, but we also know that this is complicated, and that in 162 years of planning a viable solution has not yet been found. It’s also important to note that the mountainous terrain of the path between the two cities means that constructing a railway line would be incredibly expensive as well as environmentally damaging, at a time when environmental concerns are at the forefront of new construction.

162 Years of Plans

This latest failed plan isn’t the first time that a train route between Malaga and Marbella has been proposed. Plans for a route here have been failing for 162 years. The first plan was proposed in 1862, the next in 1926, and then at regular intervals until the most recently rejected plan in 2023, which we’ve outlined above.

According to Spain’s transport minister "nobody is planning a solution... because of the costs and the environmental impact". if you were hoping to take the train between Malaga airport and Marbella on your next trip to Spain, I'm afraid you’re going to be disappointed.

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