Metro Bilbao: Wikis


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Metro Bilbao
Metro Bilbao Bolueta Station Trains.jpg
Two metro units in Bolueta station.
Locale BilbaoGreater Bilbao
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 2
Number of stations 38 (22 under ground, 16 over ground)
Daily ridership 238,356 (average weekday in 2009)
Began operation November 11, 1995
Operator(s) Biscay Transport Consortium (CTB)
System length 40 km (24.9 mi)
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in)
Basarrate Station (L1 and L2), with the characteristical "cavern" architecture that most stations have.
Sarriko Station (L1 and L2), designed with an spectacular cristal-made entrance.
Urbinaga Station (L2), curved, in an uphill and on a viaduct.

Metro Bilbao is a rapid transit (metro) system serving the city of Bilbao and the region of Greater Bilbao. Its lines have a "Y" shape, with two lines that transit both banks of the Nervión river and then combine to form one line that ends in the south of Bilbao. The network of Metro Bilbao is connected with EuskoTran (tram services), Cercanías (commuter rail services), EuskoTren (commuter rail services), FEVE (commuter rail services, regional and long-distance trains) as well as the Renfe service (long-distance trains) and Bilbao's bus station Termibus. It uses a meter gauge.

In total, the Metro has 40.61km (as of 2009) of rail tracks, with 38 stations (22 of them underground and 16 outside) and 74 accesses (not counting elevators) and 9 substations.[1]

It was the fourth Metro line to be built in Spain, after those in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Currently, it is the third biggest Metro company in Spain by number of passengers carried (87,000,000 in 2009) behind the Madrid Metro and the one in Barcelona. It is followed by the metro services of Valencia, Seville and Palma de Mallorca.

On February 21, 2007, the Basque Government announced a project for the creation of a third Line [2], which in the future will be expanded to Bilbao Airport. Construction of the new line began in July 2008.

On January 25, 2008, the preliminary layout of lines four and five was designed.[3] At the same time, the University of the Basque Country requested the construction of "Line 6" in order to connect Leioa (where the university is located) and Getxo with Asua Valley (where the airport is located) and going through the university campus.[4]


Current network and connections



Line Terminals Length Stations in service Total number of stations

Line 1

Etxebarri – Plentzia
31 km 28 31
Line 2
Etxebarri – Santurtzi
20 km 22 26
TOTAL 40,61 km(*) 38(*) 45(*)

(*) The section between the stations of San Inazio and Etxebarri is the same for Lines 2 and 1 with 10,39 km and twelve common stations.

Current Metro network, including under construction stations.


Bolueta Station (L1 and L2) constructed on a bridge above the Nervion river.
  • Bolueta Station
    • EuskoTren: L1 (Bilbao-Donostia), L1d (Durangaldea) and L3 (Urdaibai)
    • Bizkaibus: Lines A2610, A3613, A3621, A3622, A3918, A3928 and A3929.
    • Bilbobus: Line 30 (only Sundays until 3:00pm)
Metro Bilbao signal in the Intermodal Station of San Mamés.
  • Abando Station
    • Cercanías (C1, C2 and C3)
    • RENFE: Long distance trains
    • EuskoTran
    • FEVE : B-1 (Bilbao-Concordia / Balmaseda), R-3 (Bilbao-Concordia / Santander), R-3b (Bilbao-Concordia / Carranza) and T-1 (Transcantábrico)
    • Bizkaibus : Lines A2314, A2322, A2324, A3115, A3122, A3136, A3137, A3144, A3151, A3152, A3336, A3337, A3514, A3515, A3911, A3912, A3917 and 3925
    • Bilbobus : Lines 01, 03, 10, 26, 30, 40, 50, 56, 58, 62, 71, 72, 75, 77, 85, A1, A2, A5, G2, G3, G4, G5, G6, G7 and G8
  • San Inazio Station
    • Metro Bilbao: Inter-connexion between Line 1 and Line 2
    • Bilbobus : Lines 10, 13, 18 y 71

Besides this, most of the stations have connections with different bus lines. At the same time, Urbinaga Station was built with the intention of connecting lines C1 and C2 of Cercanías[5] and Ansio Station with a bus terminal[6]. However, these connection projects have not been finished as of 2009. Eventually the Urbinaga project was restarted in 2009[7]. That future intermodal station will also take advantage of the future Leioa-Urbinaga Tram[8]. Its construction was expected to start at the end of 2009.[9]



1920 project.
1985 alternative 1, almost identical to the final project.

The idea of building a metro system in the city of Bilbao is an old one. In the 1920s the city's council prepared a project to build a metro system in the neighbourhoods of Abando and San Francisco. Soon after, the economic crises and the Spanish Civil War put a definitive end to the project.

In 1971 the government of Biscay, the Bilbao City Council and the Commerce Bureau created a commission to evaluate the transportation needs of Greater Bilbao. In 1976, five years later, the Biscay Transport Consortium (CTB, see Creditrans) was created. In that same year two proposals were created to start a metro service in 1985, the first of them is almost identical to the current network.

A year later a project was created to build the metro, however lots of objections were raised against it and disagreements between different institutions put an end to it.

In 1985 the construction plans were altered and a new project was created. Finally in 1987 the Basque Government approved the plan to build and finance the Bilbao Metro.


Construction works in San Inazio
Moyua station, view from the ticket line

A metro system was deemed to be the best way to improve congestion problems in the evolving and regenerating city. The contract for the underground metro system in Bilbao was awarded to the architects Sir Norman Foster and partners in 1988 following an open competition.

The same year the first underground station was opened in Erandio, on the existing Bilbao-Plentzia railway. In 1989 construction began in the city center, where the main Moyúa square was closed to pedestrians until 1997. Construction was especially complicated in the neighbourhoods of Deusto and San Inazio, where the cut and cover tunnel excavation damaged some buildings, was very noisy, and caused severe traffic disruptions. This method of excavation contrasted with the tunnel-boring machines used elsewhere in the city.

San Mamés station, one of the original cavern designs.

Line 1

The first part of line one opened on November 11, 1995, with 23 stations between Casco Viejo and Plentzia. The tracks outside Bilbao were previously part of Eusko Trenbideak / Ferrocarriles Vascos (EuskoTren) and earlier of FEVE.

By July 5, 1997, the total number of stations was 27 as Santutxu, Basarrate and Bolueta joined Gobela which had opened the previous year.

Line 2

The first line, which operates north of the River Nervión, was later joined by a second line, which operates south of the river. The two lines split at San Inazio, from where the second runs to Santurtzi. The original five stations (Gurutzeta-Cruces, Ansio, Barakaldo, Bagatza and Urbinaga) were opened on April 13, 2002. The furthest eastern point is now Etxebarri station, opened along with Sestao on January 8, 2005. Line 2 was enlarged with two new stations in Portugalete that were opened on January 20, 2007 ( Abatxolo and Portugalete). The last two new stations joined to Metro system on July 4, 2009 in Santurtzi: Peñota and Santurtzi stations.


Plan of the future complete network of Metro Bilbao. Routes of lines 4 and 5 are preliminary.
Line Terminals Status Length Total number of stations Operator
Line 1 Basauri / Plentzia Complete 31 km 31 Metro Bilbao S.A.
Line 2 Basauri / Kabiezes Complete 20 km 26 Metro Bilbao S.A.
Shuttle to Mamariga Santurtzi / Mamariga Under construction 500 m 2 Metro Bilbao S.A.
Line 3 San Antonio / Aireportua Under construction 12.376 km 10 EuskoTren

Line 4

Matiko / Rekalde In studies 6 km 7 Metro Bilbao S.A.
Line 5 Etxebarri / Usansolo In studies 8,8 km 6 Metro Bilbao S.A.
TOTAL 68,286 m(*) 62(*)

(*) The stations and kilometers in common for all the all count just as one, as the route between the stations of San Inazio and Etxebarri are the same for lines line 2 and line 1 with 10'39 km and 12 stations in common.

Extensions to Line 1

It is expected that in 2010 Ibarbengoa Station, located between the stations of Bidezabal and Berango, will be opened. It is also expected to bury the level crossings located in Maidagan and Urduliz.[10][11]

Extensions to Line 2

In 2012 the line will be expanded from Santurtzi station (current terminal station) to a new station in Kabiezes.[12]. This new station would be the last station of Line 2.

It is not expected to expand the line further from Kabiezes, despite the requests of the neighbors of the Mining Zone and Ortuella, where the parking area of the Metro units will be located.[13]

Access shuttle for Line 2

In 2010 will start working the access to Santurtzi station from the neighborhood of Mamariga, using two underground shuttles. Those shuttles weren't on the original layouts, so its construction delayed the Metro services in Santurtzi.[14]

Extensions to common line (Lines 1 and 2)

In 2010 the metro will reach Ariz and Basauri, at the end of the common line that forms Line 1 and 2 (Ariz and Basauri are located before Etxebarri, where the terminal station is currently located). The original Metro layout for Lines 1 and 2 will be finished when those stations are opened.

Basauri's town hall, along with the neighbouring towns, requested the construction of another station in Basauri, in the neighborhood of Sarratu. That station would work as an interchange station for different means of transportation.[15] In the last months of 2009, Metro Bilbao announced that it would consider the creation of that station in Basauri, as it would function as an interchange station for the services of EuskoTren; FEVE (which only has cargo services in that location); and even with Line 5 of the metro.[16]

Line 3 construction

The definitive layout of Line 3 of Metro Bilbao has seven stations, in place of the six originally planned (Matiko Station was not included in the first layouts).[17] The line will start working and will be opened to the public in 2012, as construction started in the summer of 2009, it will cost 153 millon euros.[18] and will transport 71,000 people according to Bilbao council. The new line will have a length of 5,885 meters and will have one station in Etxebarri: San Antonio Station, and six stations in Bilbao: Otxarkoaga, Txurdinaga, Zurbaranbarri, Casco Viejo, Uribarri and Matiko.[19]

In a second phase, the line will be expanded to Bilbao Airport, using a tunnel of double rail and with a length of 1,875 meters under Mount Artxanda.[20]


The Line 3 project has been heavily criticized by the people of Bilbao and opposition political parties.[citation needed] The main reason was the marginality of the layout, as the line does not cross the river or reach the district of Rekalde, as it was expected at first, and between the stations of San Antonio and Matiko, the line runs parallel to Line 1 and Line 2, existing one connection station in Casco Viejo.

The fact that the operating company will be EuskoTren and not Metro Bilbao also raised criticism, as this company has lower quality standards[citation needed] and has less frequent interurban services. It is feared that the train traffic (from EuskoTren) coming from San Sebastián, Bermeo and Durango makes good quality service more difficult, as in the beginning there will be only two rail tracks in most of the route; those two rail tracks will have to deal with the metro services and the regional ones. However, EuskoTren has announced that the train frequency in Line 3 will be five minutes, the same as in the rest of the Metro lines.[21] It would then be a new part of EuskoTren in Bilbao, but with schedules and services more characteristic of rapid transit.

Line 4 project (On studies)

The preliminary layout of the future Line 4 (Moyúa / Rekalde) was presented on January 25, 2008. The preliminary layout suggests that Moyúa Station, which currently gives service to Line 1 and Line 2, will connect with Rekalde with two intermediate stations: Zabalburu (which currently has a suburban rail station) and Irala. There were previous discussions about the ramifications of whether to connect with either Moyúa Station or Bilbao Abando Station, this is due to the fact that Rekalde did not have a Metro connection. Line 3 was originally planned to connect Rekalde with the rest of the city, but the final plan moved the line in another direction.[22]

The plan to add Rekalde to Line 3 was halted, and the route completely altered. This change was criticised, specially by people from Rekalde.[23] In 2009 a new layout for a new line (Line 4) was considered; this new line would connect Rekalde with Moyúa and the latter station with Deusto, taking advantage of the rail tracks of EuskoTren, that are currently in that zone. Matiko Station would be connected too. The line would then have the Plaza Euskadi Station ("Euskadi Square Station") after Moyúa and then cross the river to Deusto (Deusto Station) and a new station in the University of Deusto campus (Unibersitatea), to then finally reach Matiko (Line 3).[24][25]

Line 5 project (under consideration)

Also on January 25, 2008, the preliminary layout for Line 5 (Etxebarri / Usansolo) was presented. This new line would connect Etxebarri with Galdakao. At first it was only planned for the line to have five stations, however the line is still on studies and may suffer major modifications.[26] Later, one more station was added, on the Bengoetxe neighborhood on Galdakao.[27] The line will start being constructed in 2012 and is expected to be finished in 2016[28]

The stations on the preliminar layout are Etxebarri (which currently gives service to Line 2 and Line 1), Aperribai, Bengoetxe, Galdakao, Galdakao's Hospital, and Usansolo, where the metro will be connected with lines 1, 1d and 3 from EuskoTren, which currently operate in that station.

Once the line is finished, there are plans to the line to become a extension of Line 2 from Etxebarri Station, while Line 1 would reach the center of Basauri.[29]

Lines and stations

See also: List of Bilbao metro stations

L1 L2 L3 (under construction)

Basauri Basauri
Ariz Ariz
Sarratu Sarratu
Etxebarri Etxebarri San Antonio
Bolueta Bolueta Otxarkoaga
Basarrate Basarrate Txurdinaga
Santutxu Station Santutxu Station Zurbaranbarri
Casco Viejo Casco Viejo Casco Viejo
Abando Abando Uribarri
Moyua Moyua Matiko
Indautxu Indautxu Ola
San Mames San Mames Sondika
Deusto Deusto Aireportua
Sarriko Sarriko
San Inazio San Inazio
Lutxana Station Gurutzeta/Cruces
Erandio Ansio
Astrabudua Barakaldo
Leioa Bagatza
Lamiako Urbinaga
Areeta Sestao
Gobela Abatxolo
Neguri Portugalete
Aiboa Peñota
Algorta Santurtzi
Bidezabal Kabiezes





L3grande.png (under construction)


L4grande.png (on studies)


L5grande.png (on studies)




Metro bilbao guneak.png

The Metro Bilbao network is divided into the following fare zones:

  • Zone A (Bilbao), from Bolueta Station (main line for L1 and L2) to San Inazio Station (main line for L1 and L2), both stations included.
  • Zone B0 (Upper Nervion), Etxebarri Station (main line for L1 and L2).
  • Zone B1 (Right Bank of the river), from Lutxana Station (Line 1) to Berango Station (Line 1), both stations included.
  • Zone B2 (Left Bank of the river), from Gurutzta/Cruces Station (Line 2) to Santurtzi Station (Line 2), both stations included.
  • Zone C (Uribe Kosta), from Larrabasterra Station (Line 1) to Plentzia Station (Line 1), both stations included.


Metro Bilbao offers special cards that are personal and cannot be transferred, with a time limit of 5 years since the date of expedition.[30] They can be obtained on any of the customer attention offices of Metro Bilbso (located in the stations of Ansio, Casco Viejo, San Inazio and Areeta).

  • Carnet Kidea Socio (Kidea Member Card): To use with mensual tickets and Super 50 tickets.
  • Carnet Gaztea Joven (Youth Gaztea Card): To use with the young ticket, mensual ticket and Super 50 tickets.
  • Carnet Hirukotrans (Hirukotrans Card): To use with the Hirukotrans ticket.
  • Carnet Gizatrans (Gizatrans Card): To use with Gizatrans ticket.
  • Carnet Gizatrans para familia numerosa (Gizatrans card for big families): To use with Gizatrans ticket for big families.

Tickets and fares

Underground vending machine, where tickets can be acquired.

The ticket system is closed, that means that a validation of the ticket is required when entering to the station and again when exiting.

There are different kind of tickets, each of them has a different fare (updated as 2009):[31]

Metro Bilbao exclusive use
  • Occasional ticket: One way ticket. Can be transferred. Fares: 1 Zone: 1,40€; 2 Zones: 1,50€; 3 Zones: 1,60€
  • Round trip ticket: Valid for two trips (going and coming back). Can be transferred. Fares: 1 Zone: 2,80€; 2 Zones: 3€; 3 Zones: 3,20€
  • Billete Día (Day Ticket): Unlimited trips the same day of the expedition of the ticket. Can be transferred. Fare: 4€ (valid in all zones).
  • Billete Mensual (Mensual Ticket): Unlimited trips in 30 days. Personal and cannot be transferred. A "Carnet Joven" (Youth Card), "Carnet de Socio del Metro" (Metro Honorary Member Card) or "Carnet Plus" (Plus Card) is required to obtain this ticket. Fare: 1 Zone: 29,40€; 2 Zones: 35€; 3 Zones: 40,70€
  • Ticket Joven (Youth Ticket): Unlimited trips in 12 months. Personal and cannot be transferred. To obtain one is needed to have less than 26 years and a Youth Card. Fares: 1 Zone: 188€; 2 Zones: 221€; 3 Zones: 255€
  • Super 50: Valid for 50 trips, to be made in 30 days. Personal cand cannot be transferred. A "Carnet Joven" (Youth Card), "Carnet de Socio del Metro" (Metro Honorary Member Card) or "Carnet Plus" (Plus Card) is required to obtain this ticket. Fares: 1 Zone: 24,50€; 2 Zones: 29€; 3 Zones: 32,50€
  • Billete colectivo (Groupal ticket): Valid for one trip or round trip, to be made on a specific date. Only for groups of 20 people or more. Fare: Variable.
Combined tickets
  • Combined ticket with Renfe (Uria): Valid for 10 trips. Can be transferred. Can be obtained in Abando Station and San Mames Station. The Uria ticket can be used in the following stations: Metro Bilbao: Zone A. Cercanías: Bilbao-Abando, Zabalburu Station, Ametzola Station, Autonomía Station, San Mamés Station, Olabeaga Station, Zorrotza Station, Miribilla Station and La Peña Station. The change between Renfe and Metro should be of 20 minutes or less. Fare: 9,65€.
  • Combined ticket with EuskoTren. Valid for 10 trips, monthly or annual. Valid in the stations of Casco Viejo and Bolueta. The change between EuskoTren and Metro should be of 15 minutes or less.
Creditrans tickets
  • Creditrans. Valid for as many trips as the money charge (pre-paid) of the card supports. Can be transferred and used several times in the same trip. Creditrans is a pre-paid card that can be used in Metro Bilbao, EuskoTren, EuskoTran, FEVE, Bilbobus, Bizkaibus, Artxanda Funicular, Vizcaya Bridge, Lujua's Bus, Etxebarri Bus and Sopelbus. Fares: 1 Zone: 0,69€; 2 Zones: 0,83€; 3 Zones: 0,93€. Creditrans is currently the most popular and most used ticket system on Metro Bilbao and some other transporations systems.[32]
  • Gizatrans (only valid for people older than 65 or some kind of physical disadvantage). Personal and cannot be transferred. It can be used in the same places as Creditrans with the exceptions of Sopelbus, FEVE and Vizcaya Bridge. Prince (of a single Gizatrans card): 3€. Fares (for Metro Bilbao): 0,27€ (valid on all zones).[33]
  • Hirukotrans (big families). Personal and cannot be transferred. To obtain one is needed to have a Hirukotrans Card. Only available for big families.

Schedules and frequencies

The Metro network works from 6:00am until 11:00pm from Monday to Thursday, and until 2:00am on Friday and Saturday and days before festive days. There is an all night service from Friday to Saturday, with trains each 15 minutes on the main lines and with a 30-minute frequency on the other lines. On months of June, July, August and September, the no-interruptions night service also works on Fridays. During "Bilbao's Great Week", there are special services every night.

During weekdays, there is a frequency of 3 minutes on Zone A, 6 minutes on Zone B.0, B.1 y B.2 and 18 minutes on Zone C during most of the day.


In 2007 Metro Bilbao was used by almost 86 million people, being the third most used metro in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. Since it serves directly about 680,000 people, each citizen travels about 126 times a year. Ridership increases steadily every year, there are some dramatic increases in 1998 and 2002 due to enlargement of the network, ridership is expected to reach 100 million people per year once the network is completed.

Busiest stations in 2007
  • Abando – 6,786,616 passengers
  • Casco Viejo – 6,554,028 passengers
  • Moyua – 6,342,798 passengers
  • Indautxu – 6,195,720 passengers
  • San Mames – 5,769,908 passengers


Station access and escalators

Access to the metro is provided by 'fosteritos', glass structures affectionately named after the architect who designed them Norman Foster. These modern-looking tunnels stand attractive alongside the modern and innovative interior of the stations.

Large caverns of a 160m2 cross section were dug for stations, creating large open spaces, as opposed to the traditional sets of linked tunnels. For example the ticket line is in the same space as the trains, for this purpose steel structures called 'mezzanines' have been built over the tracks. Trains are fully accessible by lifts and escalators. Materials such as steel and concrete have been used throughout.

Bagatza station 'fosterito' and signaling

Sarriko station won the 1998 Brunel Award for Railway Design. It is noticeably different from the rest of the stations in the network: in place of the standard 'fosterito', a vast glazed atrium pours natural light into the entire station, and the long, unbroken escalator ride to the ticket hall from street level gives a dramatic sense of character to the station.

Away from the main structures, the design company Akaba created the seating systems for the Metro, which subsequently won the Spanish National Industrial Design Prize from the Ministry of Science and Technology in November 2000. A distinctive signage system was created by Otl Aicher, which are responsible for the eye-catching masts bearing the Metro logo. The principal colours used are of white lettering on a red background for key information and black lettering for secondary details.


The Metro Bilbao uses presently train types of the series UT-500 and UT-550, built by CAF. The company uses 24 trains of the first series and thirteen of the second. All vehicles are maintained and parked in Sopelana and Ariz.

The first sixteen vehicles which carry the numbers UT 501 to 516 were delivered by CAF and ABB in November 1995. Inside each car 2+2 seats are arranged respectively vis-à-vis in the colors of the Corporate design – red and grey –. A set of four cars is altogether 72.12 meters long, 3.85 meters high and 2.80 meters wide. That's specially wide for a train that uses narrow gauge, for example vehicles of the large profile Berlin metro are only 2.65 meters wide, and they use the normal gauge of 1435 millimeters.

The trains use, like the commuter railroads in the region, the overhead tension of 1500 volts and possess altogether sixteen motors of respectively 180 kilowatts; together that yields 2880 kilowatts per train unit. The maximum speed is 80 kilometers per hour. A train can carry 712 persons. This statement is based upon 144 seats and 568 standing on the average six persons per square meter.

The number of trains was increased after a renewed order in 1996 to a total of 24 trains with the numbers UT 517 until 524. For the higher requirement in the newly constructed line 2, thirteen new trains were ordered to the firms CAF and Adtranz (now mother company of ABB) and they were delivered in October 2001. The last delivery contained now the new trains of the series UT-550. This series differs from its predecessor in a higher efficiency, needed to climb the deep line 2 tunnel under the river, and an improved air-conditioning.

Since 1998 the ATP system is used (automatic train protection), as well as ATO (automatic train operation) installed. The latter implies that the train drivers must press solely a button, and the remainder of the train operation is done through the computer. This is to be seen as an initial stage for a system gone completely controlled by the computer

External links

Moyua station exit, fosterito view from behind.

See also


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