Rail transport in Spain
High-speed AVE train, Madrid-Barcelona line.
|National railway||Renfe Operadora|
|Major operators||RENFE, FEVE, EuskoTren, FGC, FGV|
|Ridership||507 million (RENFE, 2018)|
87.2 million (FGC, 2018)
|Total||16,026 km (9,958 mi)|
|Electrified||10,182 km (6,327 mi)|
|Broad gauge |
1,668 mm (5 ft 5 21⁄32 in)
|11,829 km (7,350 mi)|
|Standard gauge |
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)
|3,100 km (1,900 mi)|
1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)
|1,926 km (1,197 mi)|
|Narrow gauge |
914 mm (3 ft)
|28 km (17 mi)|
|3000 V DC||Main network|
|25 kV AC||High-speed lines, recent electrification|
|Longest tunnel||Sierra de Guadarrama, 28.4 km (17.6 mi)|
Most railways are operated by Renfe Operadora; metre and narrow-gauge lines are operated by FEVE and other carriers in individual autonomous communities. It is proposed and planned to build or convert more lines to standard gauge, including some dual gauging of broad-gauge lines, especially where these lines link to France, including platforms to be heightened.
The first railway line in the Iberian Peninsula was built in 1848 between Barcelona and Mataró. In 1851 the Madrid-Aranjuez line was opened. In 1852 the first narrow gauge line was built; in 1863 a line reached the Portuguese border. By 1864 the Madrid-Irun line had been opened, and the French border reached.
In 1900 the first line to be electrified was the La Poveda-Madrid.
The last steam locomotive was withdrawn in 1975, in 1986 the maximum speed on the railways was raised to 160 km/h, and in 1992 the Madrid-Seville high-speed line opened, beginning the process of building a nationwide high-speed network.
Following the opening of the AVE network, the classic Iberian gauge railways have lost importance in inter-city travel, for example, the Madrid–Barcelona railway takes over nine hours to travel between the two cities stopping at every station. With the Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line, the longest possible journey is just three hours. This has allowed the conventional lines to increase focus on regional and commuter traffic, along with freight. Some lines, including the Córdoba-Bobadilla section of the classic Córdoba–Málaga railway, have lost passenger traffic completely due to the opening of AVE serving the same destinations.
Many important Spanish towns remain disconnected to the rail network, the largest being Marbella with a population of over 140,000, along with Chiclana de la Frontera (pop. 83,000) and Torrevieja (pop. 82,000). Others are not on the national rail network but linked to light rail or metro systems, such as Getxo, Biscay (pop. 80,000); Torrent, Valencia (pop. 79,000); and Benidorm, Alicante (pop. 69,000).
- Renfe Operadora is a state-owned company which operates freight and passenger trains on the 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 21⁄32 in) "Iberian gauge", 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge rail networks of the Spanish nationalized infrastructure company ADIF (Spanish: Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias). Both were formed from the break-up of the former national carrier RENFE (Spanish: Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles, "Spanish National Railway Network") and subsequently of FEVE (Spanish: Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha, "Narrow-Gauge Spanish Railways").
- EuskoTren (Basque: Eusko Trenbideak, Spanish: Ferrocarriles Vascos, "Basque Railways") operates trains on part of the narrow gauge railway network in the Basque Country.
- FGC (Catalan: Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, "Catalan Government Railways") operates several unconnected lines in Catalonia. It operates 140 km (87 mi) of narrow gauge, 42 km (26 mi) of standard gauge, and 89 km (55 mi) of Iberian gauge routes, two metre gauge rack railways and four funicular railways.
- FGV (Valencian: Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana, "Valencian Government Railways") operates several metre gauge lines in the Valencian Community.
- FS (Catalan: Ferrocarril de Sóller, "Sóller Railways") operates an electrified 914 mm (3 ft) narrow gauge railway on the Spanish island of Majorca between the towns of Palma and Sóller.
- SFM (Catalan: Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca, "Majorcan Railway Servicies") operates the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge railway network on the Spanish island of Majorca.
- Acciona Rail Services, a subsidiary of Acciona, operates a coal cargo line between Asturias and the province of León.
- COMSA Rail Transport, a subsidiary of COMSA, operates a cargo line from the Port of Gijón to Valladolid.
- Continental Rail is dedicated to bringing materials into the gorges of the high-speed lines in progress.
Metro/light rail systemsEdit
- Alicante (Alicante Tram)
- Barcelona (Barcelona Metro/Tram)
- Bilbao (Bilbao Metro/Tram)
- Granada (Granada Metro).
- Jaén (Jaén Tram) built in 2011 but without service by political reason.
- Madrid (Madrid Metro)
- Málaga (Málaga Metro)
- Murcia (Murcia tram)
- Palma (Palma Metro)
- Parla (Parla Tram)
- Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Tenerife Tram)
- San Sebastian (Metro Donostialdea)
- Seville (Seville Metro/Tram)
- Valencia (Metrovalencia)
- Vélez-Málaga (Vélez-Málaga Tram) opened in 2006, closed 2012
- Vitoria-Gasteiz (Vitoria-Gasteiz Tram)
- Zaragoza (Zaragoza Tram)
Narrow gauge linesEdit
In Spain there is an extensive 1,250 km (780 mi) system of metre gauge railways
Conventional Iberian gauge linesEdit
- Alcázar de San Juan–Cádiz railway
- Algeciras-Bobadilla railway
- Barcelona–Cerbère railway
- Casetas–Bilbao railway
- Chinchilla–Cartagena railway
- Córdoba–Málaga railway
- León–A Coruña railway
- Linares Baeza–Almería railway
- Madrid–Barcelona railway
- Madrid–Hendaye railway
- Madrid–Valencia railway
- Valencia−Sant Vicenç de Calders railway
- Venta de Baños–Gijón railway
High-speed standard gauge linesEdit
- France – break-of-gauge 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 21⁄32 in)/1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) (new high-speed line links without any break-of-gauge)
- Portugal – same gauge
- Gibraltar (UK) – no current rail system in Gibraltar, although accessible via buses from La Línea to San Roque station.
- Morocco – no access to mainland (proposed undersea tunnel)
Andorra has no rail system.
In 2004, the Spanish government adopted a new strategic plan for transportation through 2020 called the PEIT (Strategic Plan for Infrastructures and Transport). This detailed rail subsidies of around €9.3 billion annually on average from 2005-2020. In 2010, it rolled out a two-year plan to invest an extra €11 billion each year for two years, as a part of a financial stimulus in response to the global downturn. In 2015, the federal budget for the railways was €5.1 billion.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rail transport in Spain.|
- "RENFE ridership growth continues". International Railway Journal. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
- "Memòria de Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya" (PDF). Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya. 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
- CIA - The World Factbook - Spain
- Verkehrsrundschau, 2007-04-30
- Significant events in the history of Spanish infrastructures and railways Archived 2009-09-04 at the Wayback Machine www.fomento.es. See also www.biada.com
- Ferrotransmadrid Archived 2013-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
- Descubre la Alta Velocidad Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
- "Horarios PDF - Renfe.com". Renfe. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
- "Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry p. 20-21" (PDF).
- "Spanish railways battle profit loss with more investment". 17 September 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2016.