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Cercanías Madrid: Wikis


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Cercanías Madrid is the commuter rail service that serves Madrid, the capital of Spain, and its metropolitan area. It is operated by Cercanías Renfe, the commuter rail division of RENFE, the former monopoly of rail services in Spain. The system is infamous for being the target of the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings. The attacks triggered a small reduction in the ridership of the system but it is still the most used and most profitable[1] (by 2004) of the commuter rail services in Spain. The total length spans 339.1 km.

Cercanías network as of June 2009




Until 1990

The first railroad line departing from Madrid (the second in Spain, the third in the Iberian Peninsula) was built in 1851 between Madrid and Aranjuez. Soon the growing Spanish railway system was dominated by two large companies: the Compañía del Norte (Northern Company), who operated the lines between Madrid and the Atlantic North of Spain from the Estación del Norte (now Príncipe Pío),and the Madrid-Zaragoza-Alicante (MZA) who operated the lines between the capital and the Mediterranean and Andalusian cities from the Atocha station. Another station, Delicias, served the line to Lisbon. Other smaller companies operated from Madrid, mostly in narrow gauge. After the Civil War, in 1941, the ailing railway companies were nationalised and joined in the new RENFE, and the narrow gauge lines were progressively closed, the last one in 1970. Almost at the same time, the new Chamartín station was built and all services were transferred to the main stations: Chamartín for the north and east-bound and the international services and Atocha for the south and west-bound trains. Both stations were linked by a tunnel, the Connection Railway Line (Línea de Enlaces Ferroviarios, a line to link the MZA lines with the Norte lines; the building started during the Republic and was only finished as far as 1968. The delays gave the tunnel the nickname of tubo de la risa (funny tube), after a fair attraction very popular in the 1930s.

The development of the towns around Madrid as bedroom communities only started in the late 1960s, in two different parts of the metropolitan area:

The Henares Corridor

The main Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona line followed the valley of the Henares river, going through the important town of Alcalá de Henares to Guadalajara and Zaragoza. The towns around the line (Coslada, San Fernando de Henares, Torrejón de Ardoz, Alcalá itself) and some suburbs within the city of Madrid (Vallecas Villa, Vicálvaro) started to grow large bedroom communities, which relied heavily in the railway for commuting to Madrid.

The South-Southwestern Area

At the same time, the former rural towns of Alcorcón, Móstoles, Leganés, Fuenlabrada and Getafe (and some others) started to grow as bedroom communities. These bedroom communities were less rail-oriented and relied more in bus services and private transportation, but soon the rail services were enlarged: in the Madrid-Toledo line for the towns of Getafe and Parla, in the Madrid-Talavera de la Reina line for Leganés and Fuenlabrada, and in 1976 a full (Spanish) gauge line between Madrid and Móstoles was built, substituting the narrow gauge line closed in 1970.

At this time, the services were full part of the normal RENFE services, and the cars and stations had the standard livery of the rest of the company. In the 1980s, services started to operate between Madrid-Chamartín and the new town of Tres Cantos, serving also the Autonomous University of Madrid campus, in Cantoblanco.

From 1990 on

Aravaca station

At the 1990s, RENFE divided its services in business areas (áreas de negocio),each one with its own symbols and livery. The gold and blue colors were substituted by the red, white and gray colors of the new Cercanías brand and new network maps were made, where the lines were numbered. At the same time, a shift was appreciated in the Metropolitan Madrid area growth; the new housing initiatives moved from the northeast and southwest part of the region to the northwest. RENFE then started an ambitious plan of growth of the Cercanías network: linking the decaying Norte station, now renamed Príncipe Pío, to the Atocha station, through the former industrial districts just south the Madrid downtown. This project, called the Pasillo Verde (Green Corridor), also created new streets and housing projects. In 1997, the Pasillo Verde was finished. In 2000, the line C-1 was extended to the towns of Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes, relieving the heavy road traffic between these towns and Madrid. In 2003, the C-7 line was extended to Colmenar Viejo, and in 2004, the C-5 to Humanes. Both extensions were ardently sought, because both cities were already linked by railroad to Madrid, so a Cercanías service was considered logical. The company also developed the so-called CIVIS services, linking important stations non-stop with downtown Madrid (see below at CIVIS)

The 11 March 2004 attacks

The 11 March 2004 attacks occurred in four trains circulating by the Madrid-Alcalá-Guadalajara-Zaragoza line. One of the trains was a double-decker 450 series who served the C-2 line coming from Guadalajara to Chamartín; the other three were 446 series who departed from Alcalá de Henares: two serving the C-1 line to Alcobendas and one serving the C-7 line, finishing in Príncipe Pío. After the attacks, services were reintroduced the following day, with RENFE private security reinforced. Security measures and design of the rolling stock have been accredited to having notably reduced the number of casualties in the attacks. The attacks arguably reduced ridership in the Cercanías network, but much of this reduction has been recovered by now. Nowadays, some citizens are still too traumatized to ride the trains again.


Nine lines serve the Cercanías network. There are three kinds of lines:

suburb-to-Madrid lines
these lines make a direct link between the suburbs with downtown Madrid: lines C-2,C-3,C-4 and C-8.
suburb-to-suburb lines
these lines link two suburbs, but most traffic only goes from one of the suburbs to Madrid; indeed, some of these lines have special services suburb-to-Madrid only, specially in rush hours, early in the morning or late at night. Suburb-to-suburb lines are the C-1, C-5, C-7 and C-10.
C-9 line
see C-9.

It can be argued that lines C-2 and C-8 are the same line, as usually the trains who finish C-8 line in Atocha will follow line C-2 to Guadalajara and viceversa; indeed, a C-2 train will be signed El Escorial or Cercedilla rather than Chamartín, and a C-8 train will rather be signed Guadalajara than Atocha.

There is no line C-6 because it was gathered with line C-5.


Operating times

Rather strangely for such a night-living city as Madrid, trains don't operate late at night, mostly for union and safety reasons. The first train to operate on weekdays (as 10 February 2006) is the 4.07 C-5 train from Móstoles/El Soto; the rest of the lines (except C-9) start to operate around 5 a.m.

The frequency of the trains depends on the size of the towns served and the traffic on the line. The central section of the network (from Atocha to Chamartín, through Recoletos and Nuevos Ministerios has trains each 3-4 minutes (of various lines) on weekdays peak hours; the farther branches of the C-8 line have trains each two hours on weekends.

All lines (except C-9) finish their operations around midnight.

Rolling stock

There are basically three series of trains operating in the Madrid Cercanías network:

446 series
built from 1987 on, these are the most usual cars in the network, together with 447 series. They are used for almost all lines. Their maximum speed is 100 km/h and can carry 704 passengers (204 seated) in each three cars. They use an AdTranz Propulsion & Control System, with CAF bogies and carbody.
447 series
built from 1993 on. Their maximum speed is 120 km/h and can carry 704 passengers (204 seated) in each three cars. They use a Siemens Propulsion & Control System, with CAF bogies and Carbody.
450 series
the double-decker 450 series were built from 1990 on. Apart of the double deck, they are different from the other series in their almost all-seat configuration. They are mostly used in the C-2/C-8 line and in the C-1. Their maximum speed is 140 km/h and can carry 1840 passengers (1008 seated).

They are also new modular and moderns trains, called Civia (462, 463, 464 or 465 series). They share the same design, the series number depending on the number of coaches, with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 coaches. They have been designed as a replacement for the 446 series in the CIVIS services.

The 446 series trains can serve in two composition: a single composition of three cars (called tren corto or short train) and a double composition of six cars (called tren largo or long train) As the double composition is the most usual, when a service is operated by a single composition it is announced previously.


Zones in operation on the Cercanías Madrid, as of 2009

Cercanias is part of the Madrid Regional Transport Consortium (Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid) and follows its zoning system, based in concentric zones around Madrid. The price of the trips inside the network depends of the number of zones crossed.

Prices of one single trip ticket, in euro:

Zones Price
1 or 2 1.10
3 1.20
4 1.75
5 2.25
6 2.65
7 3.40

There is also the bonotren, who allows ten trips (prices range from 5.65 to 26.20) and the abono mensual who allows two trips a day during a natural month (prices range from 20.00 to 70.00) The abono mensual shall not be confused with the Abono Transportes, which allows the use of all the transport network, not only trains.


CIVIS is a special service which operates on some lines: first on C-10 and C-3, and later on C-2. CIVIS serves certain stations only and thus provides faster through service.

Development plans

As RENFE is (at the moment) a constituent of the Spanish Ministry of Infrastructure, and national infrastructure development projects during the last ten years have focused on the development of the Spanish high speed network, funding for new lines has been scarce and growth has been slow (in comparison with the rocket-paced growth of the Madrid Metro). From 2004 on, construction has begun on a second central line to link Atocha and Chamartín. This project is intended to relieve the heavy traffic in the old tunnel (built during the 1930s and 1940s, when materials were scarce and poor) but it has received heavy criticism as it builds two new stations downtown; one of them in the Sol station of the Metro. Supporters of the project say that the new station will get the citizens closer to the commercial center; critics say that the new station will overwhelm the already crowded Sol station.

As the Cercanías network is the only public transportation system in Madrid which is owned by the Spanish central state (in comparison with the Metro and bus services, owned regionally, municipally and privately) this difference has been exploited politically. A harsh debate between the Madrid regional government (which operates the Metro) and the central government (which operates the Cercanías) about who is responsible for building the line to the new terminal of the Barajas Airport delayed the construction of any rail link. The Madrid Metro Line 8 extension to Terminal 4 is slated for opening in May 2007, while the Cercanías link is not expected before 2009.

See also

External links


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