NEW CHANCE FOR THE LE­MON EX­PRESS

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jo Pugh jpugh@cb­news.es

AF­TER 12 years, there is fi­nally hope that the Le­mon Ex­press train, from Benidorm to Gata de Gor­gos, will run again.

The com­pany be­hind the res­ur­rec­tion, Gestión Fer­roviaria, has been in talks with the train com­pany, FGV (Fer­ro­car­rils de la Gen­er­al­i­tat Va­len­ciana), to try and re­store and run the leg­endary tourist train, whose car­riages are sit­ting in a stor­age yard in Cam­pello.

Gestión Fer­roviaria is propos­ing to ob­tain the man­age- ment of the train, ei­ther by a di­rect con­tract or by bid­ding for the con­ces­sion to run it. This all de­pends on the Va­len­cia gov­ern­ment agree­ing to al­low it to go to pub­lic ten­der.

In re­turn, they would re­store the old car­riages and put it back on the tracks dur­ing hours that “at no time" would dis­turb the Line 9 timetable. They pro­pose that the Le­mon Ex­press would once again cover the Benidorm to Dé­nia route at an in­ter­me­di­ate fre­quency to the FGV tram, which would make it pos­si­ble to si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­nect the two.

The di­rec­tor of Gestión Fer­roviaria, Josep Calvera, said that plac­ing it on the tracks is not as com­pli­cated or as ex­pen­sive as the Va­len­cian gov­ern­ment thinks. He also stated that al­though the car­riages have been left stand­ing for many years, they were ac­tu­ally like new, as they were re­place­ments which had never been used. They have never been on the track.

Twelve years ago, a de­ci­sion was taken to ter­mi­nate the ser­vice whilst main­te­nance on the tracks took place, and the Le­mon Ex­press was parked near Cam­pello. Calvera said "They only trav­elled a few kilo­me­tres be­tween the work­shops of La Ma­rina and Cam­pello. The frame and the wheels are to­tally new; some still have their fac­tory la­bels. One mil­lion euros was in­vested and they were never used."

The car­riages have since been the vic­tim of graf­fiti and only two cars, one for pas­sen­gers and one for the restau­rant, have re­tained their ap­pear­ance. The other 10 need thor­ough clean­ing, new win­dows and re­paint­ing.

The plan came to fruition when a com­pany in Benidorm pro­posed that one of the car­riages be placed on a round­about as a tourist fea­ture. Calvera, who de­vised the idea, said that "the project is fea­si­ble" and he did not lose hope of "re­cov­er­ing from mem­ory a his­tor­i­cal train that is part of the cul­ture of all the in­hab­i­tants of the area".

The Le­mon Ex­press went from Benidorm to Gata de Gor­gos, where it stopped at the gui­tar fac­tory. On the re­turn route, co­pi­ous amounts of free cava was en­joyed by many pas­sen­gers, with many not re­call­ing their trip back on the rick­ety wooden bench seats.

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