Cercanías Madrid

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 known for being the target of the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings.[2] The total length spans 370 km.

Cercanías Madrid
Cercanias Logo.svg
Estación de Nuevos Ministerios (Madrid) 03.jpg
Cercanías platforms at Nuevos Ministerios Station
LocaleCommunity of Madrid, parts of Segovia Province and Guadalajara Province
Transit typeCommuter rail
Number of lines9
Number of stations90
Daily ridership880,000
Began operation1975[1] (First section opened in 1851)
Operator(s)Renfe Operadora
Number of vehiclesClass 442, 446, 447, 450, Civia
Headway3-4 minutes (central segment)
System length370 km (230 mi)
Track gauge1,668 mm (5 ft 5+2132 in)
Top speed120 km/h (75 mph)
Cercanías Madrid Map, November 2018


Until 1989Edit

The first railroad line departing from Madrid (the second in Spain and 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 Second Republic and was only finished in 1967. The delays gave the tunnel the nickname of Túnel de la risa ("Tunnel of Laughter" (es)), after a fairground 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 CorridorEdit

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 AreaEdit

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 1989 onEdit

Aravaca station

In 1989, 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 attacksEdit

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 which 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.


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-7, and C-10.
suburb-to-suburb lines, passing through Madrid
these lines link two suburbs, but most passengers only go from one of the suburbs to Madrid or vice-versa; 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-3, C-4, C-5 and C-8.
intra-city line
C-1, only runs through the city of Madrid from Príncipe Pío to the Madrid Airport.
tourist line
C-9, from the village of Cercedilla (terminus of C-8) to the ski resorts of Navacerrada Pass and Cotos. Only runs from December to March.
Suspended line
Cercanías Madrid commuter rail service lines (as of 5 February 2018)
Line Route No. of
Length Schedule
C-1 Príncipe PíoAtochaChamartínAeropuerto T4 11 23.6 km
14.1 mi
C-2 ChamartínAtochaAlcalá de HenaresGuadalajara 19 65 km
40.6 mi
C-3 ChamartínAtochaAranjuez 24 106.5 km
66.3 mi
C-3a Santa María de la AlamedaEl EscorialVillalba - ChamartínAtochaAranjuez
C-4 Alcobendas-San Sebastián de los Reyes/Colmenar ViejoChamartínAtochaParla 18 62.2 km
38.1 mi
C-5 Móstoles-El SotoAtochaHumanes 23 45 km
27.1 mi
C-7 Príncipe PíoLas RozasChamartínAtochaAlcalá de Henares 24 97 km
60.4 mi
C-8 CercedillaVillalba - ChamartínAtochaAlcalá de HenaresGuadalajara 32 135 km
83.1 mi
C-9 CercedillaCotos 3 18.2 km
11.5 mi
C-10 Villalba - Príncipe PíoAtochaChamartínAeropuerto T4 21 71.6 km
44.9 mi

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 vice versa; 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 combined with line C-5.

In 2004 construction was begun on a second central line to link Atocha and Chamartín, to relieve the heavy traffic in the old tunnel (built during the 1930s and 1940s, when materials were scarce and poor). Opening on July 9, 2008, it included a new station at Sol of the Metro where trains stop instead of at Recoletos on the old line. The tunnel is now in use by the C-3 and C-4.



Operating timesEdit

Rather strangely for such a night-living city as Madrid, trains do not operate late at night, mostly for union and safety reasons. The first train to operate on weekdays is the 5:07 C-5 train from Móstoles/El Soto; the rest of the lines (except C-9) start to operate around 5:30 am. Line C-9, being a branch line located far away from central Madrid in the Sierra de Guadarrama, operates from 9:30 am to 10:30 pm.

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 every 3–4 minutes (of various lines) on weekday peak hours; the farther branches of the C-8 line have trains every two hours on weekends.

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

Rolling stockEdit

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

446 series
built from 1989 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 from the double deck, they are different from the other series in their almost all-seat configuration. They are mostly used on the C-2/C-8 and the C-1 line. Their maximum speed is 140 km/h and they 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 old 440/440R series in the CIVIS services. In Madrid there are only 465 series.

The 446 and 447 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 2011

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 on the number of zones crossed.

Prices of one single trip ticket, in euro as of April 2015:[3]

Zones 1 or 2 3 4 5 6 7 Green
Price 1.70 1.85 2.60 3.40 4.05 5.50 8.70

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


CIVIS is a special service which operates on some lines: first on C-10 and C-3, and later on C-2. The CIVIS services uses the direct railway line between Chamartin and San Fernando without stopping and thus provides faster through service to San Fernando and stations beyond.

Development plansEdit

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).

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 opened in May 2007, while the Cercanías link did not open until 2011.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Barqueros, Isidro (29 September 2009). "La historia de Cercanías Madrid: 1975-1989: Los inicios" (in Spanish).
  2. ^ "Empresa". Renfe. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010.
  3. ^ "Madrid - Passes and Discounts". Renfe. Archived from the original on 11 February 2020.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°25′08″N 3°41′31″W / 40.4189°N 3.6919°W / 40.4189; -3.6919