Spain - General Information
National Railway System
Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (RENFE). Since 1 January 2014 this has been divided into four subsidiaries: Renfe Mercancías (freight), Renfe Viajeros (passenger traffic), Renfe Fabricación y Mantenimiento (manufacturing and maintenance) and Renfe Alquiler (equipment hire).
National Railway Operator
Train operation is the responsibility of RENFE Operadora. Initially, at least, the existing operating divisions continue, with passenger services provided by four divisions:
- Cercanías - Suburban services around main towns and cities; this is known by the Catalan word Rodalies in and around Barcelona
- Media Distancia - Interurban local services
- Larga Distancia - Long distance
- AVE - High speed trains using the Madrid - Valladolid - León, Madrid - Medina del Campo - Zamora, Madrid - Sevilla/Malaga/Granada, Madrid - Zaragoza - Barcelona - Perpignan, Madrid - Zaragoza - Huesca, Madrid - Cuenca - València/Albacete and Madrid - Toledo lines.
There is a separate division for freight, Mercancías, subdivided into various businesses. It was announced on 14 December 2017 that a ‘strategic partner’ is to be sought for the freight business to on continuing recent growth and increasing activity outside Spain.
Ouigo, a separate subsidiary company of SNCF (French Railways), has announced that it will start running trains between Madrid and Barcelona from 15 March 2021.
Spanish (Español) is the principal language. This is known as Castellano (i.e. Castilian) in Spain. Other languages predominate in certain regions: Català (Catalan) is used in Catalunya and a variant of it (Valenciano) in the València region; Gallego (Galician) is a Portuguese dialect, used in North West Spain; Euskara (Basque) is used in Euskadi (Pais Vasco, the Basque region): it is an isolate with no clear relationship to any other known language or language group. The regional languages are more likely to be encountered on notices and name signs than in spoken form. Català place names have been in general use for many years and are unlikely to cause confusion, although it is worth noting that the Valenciano for Alicante is Alacant. Gallego and Castilian names are mostly similar, except for prefixes. For example, La Coruña and El Ferrol are A Coruña and O Ferrol in Gallego. Place names in Castilian and Euskara can be quite different. San Sebastían is known in Euskara as Donostia and Vitoria as Gasteiz. It should be noted that the Euskara name for Pamplona (the main city of Navarra) is Iruñea or Iruña, which should not be confused with the border town, Irún.
numeric 71, alpha E
- Actually for ticket purchases but unlike the links listed below it finds all stations (except those only served by Cercanias) after clicking on the box "View all the stations" through letter controlled drop down boxes. Note it can still fail to find all journey possibilities if a change of train is required.
- RENFE Main line services. This defaults to a drop-down list of just principal departure and arrival stations and only searches for direct services. For a more comprehensive station list and options involving a connection click "Find all stations" and 'Make the same journey with a change of trains' as this usually finds extra journeys.
Another incomplete search option is "See the direct destinations from the selected point of departure" but note this does not include Cercanías (suburban) services (even such a long and infrequently served rural route as [Murcia -] Lorca Sutullena - Águilas). See "Cercanias services" below.
- RENFE Cercanías services then select the region required. This now includes the former FEVE services.
- EuskoTren: euskotren and choose the mode of transport required.
- FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya).
- RENFE: No known downloadable timetable is available for RENFE.
- RENFE former FEVE services: None available but basic journey planner at the RENFE FEVE Page. For up to date information, also use the RENFE journey planner.
- EuskoTren: Horarios de Tren and select the line required.
- FGC: Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya.
- SFM: Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca Click on 'ENG' then the 'Timetables / Fares' tab.
- RENFE: RENFE does not publish a national timetable and printed timetable books have not been published for many years. Individual leaflets are available for particular routes, but these are distributed only in the area served and may not be widely available. However, coverage of Spain in the European Rail Timetable is quite comprehensive.
- RENFE former FEVE services: Individual timetable leaflets for particular routes are sometimes available.
- FGC: Timetable leaflets are available for particular routes
- EuskoTren: No timetable book is published but individual leaflets are available for particular routes.
Engineering and Current Performance Information
- RENFE: Some information is provided (only in Spanish/Catalan/Basque) in the Ultima Hora section of the RENFE website.
- RENFE former FEVE services: Limited information at the RENFE FEVE Page.
- EuskoTren: Some information is provided (only in Spanish) on the Noticias, Comunicados y Notas de Prensa page.
- Current Performance Information
- Positrén gives a map of the network showing the location of trains. Click on a train symbol to find its location or on a station for real time arrivals and departures.
The compilers are not aware of a national bus journey planner. One of the largest companies is Alsa
Timetable information for all companies operating in Andalucia is avaialble at Transportes Generales Comes > English
- European Railway Atlas: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece by M.G. Ball (1991) (ISBN 0-7110-2087-6)
- European Railway Atlas by M.G. Ball (2008 onwards)
- A PDF file (16 MB) map (dated 2007) is available at www.anuario-ffe.com/PDF/cartog_red_espanola.pdf.
- Useful maps exist on ADIF's "network statement" PDF file.
- Thorsten Büker's Iberia Map, with enlargements for Barcelona and Madrid. Although these remain on-line, the Büker maps are no longer being maintained. Last update was November 2011.
- Some useful maps and plans are available on the via libre website.
- Maps and Plans - Spain.
- Some AVE line diagrams with stations, junction names and distance are linked in the individual AVE line pages from this wiki
- Former FEVE System; FEVE Mercancías.
Anybody contemplating travel in Spain is advised to make their reservations before leaving their home country to guarantee travelling on the train of their choice.
A reservation is necessary to travel on any train other than Regional or Cercanías services. At most main stations access to platforms used by long-distance trains is possible only upon production of a valid reservation. At busy times trains may become fully booked days in advance and standing passengers are not admitted. Tickets can be purchased through the RENFE website: foreign credit cards and addresses are accepted by the system. Reservations can also be made at main stations. Although the system is quite efficient, long queues can develop at the busier stations and it is often necessary to obtain a 'queue ticket'. Waiting times are generally much shorter early in the morning.
Conventional fares vary according to the type of train and time of travel. RENFE maintains a rigid distinction between the four passenger service divisions. If a through journey involves a connection between trains of different divisions, a separate ticket will be issued for each division's portion of the journey. Usually fares are more expensive at busy times, but on Madrid Cercanías services fares are higher at weekends. AVE passengers have a money-back guarantee if the train is more than five minutes late and refunds may be available in event of extreme lateness on other long-distance services.
RENFE offers over 60's the annual Tarjeta Dorada which gives significant discounts on ordinary fares. Unfortunately they are issued to non-Spaniards on a thin card, so cannot be used with ticket machines, which require a smart card for this purpose.
RENFE does not offer any type of network ticket. However, the RENFE Spain Pass enables non-residents to purchase a predetermined number of journeys within one month at a flat rate, making it more economical to use it for long journeys. A ticket must still be obtained for the actual journey. See the RENFE website for details. It is slightly more expensive than a One Country Pass, but this is outweighed by the other features:
- Purchase of the Pass itself and all train reservations can be made in advance from home.
- There are no additional booking fees or extra charges for trains requiring reservation, even for AVE services. In contrast most other passes are not valid on AVE services. Holders of other types of pass have to pay reservation fees, because these include compulsory travel insurance, and on certain long-distance trains may be able to obtain only a discounted fare.
- Unlike other passes, there are no quotas for Spain Pass holders. Reservations can be made on any train with available seats.
- RENFE/FEVE: Infrastructure is owned and managed by a public authority, Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias (ADIF).
- Basque REgion/Euskadi: Euskal Trenbide Sarea - Red Ferroviaria Vasca (ETS-RFV) is the infrastructure authority for the Basque Region.
- Catalunya: Infraestructuras Ferroviàries de Catalunya IFERCATis the infrastructure authority for Catalunya.
Gauge is more of an issue in Spain than in any other European country. Most of the RENFE system is 1668 mm gauge but there is probably an unspoken ambition to convert the network to UIC (1435 mm) gauge; many main lines are now being renewed with dual gauge sleepers even where no 1435 mm gauge track exists there. RENFE operates freight and passenger rolling stock able to work on both 1668 mm and 1435 mm gauge lines.
The AVE high speed lines between Madrid and Sevilla/Malaga/Granada, Toledo, Madrid and León/Ourense (part way), Madrid and Barcelona (- Girona - French border)/Huesca, and Madrid and Valencia/Albacete are 1435 mm gauge, as is also the new freight access to Morrot (Barcelona) port. The high speed line between Ourense and Santiago de Compostela is 1668 mm gauge but will be converted to 1435 mm gauge one day. The high speed line between Camp de Tarragona and Vandellós (SW of Tarragona) is 1435 mm gauge at its eastern end and 1668 mm gauge at its western end, which will be converted to mixed gauge.
One track of the existing main line between Girona and Vilamalla (south of Figueres) has been converted to mixed gauge (with 1435 mm gauge passing loops), and similarly both tracks of the Mollet Sant Fost - Cerdanyola - El Papiol line, avoiding Barcelona, in order to provide access to Morrot port. The highest priority is now being given to converting the Barcelona - Tarragona - València - Silla "Mediterranean Corridor" to mixed gauge in order to serve the needs of freight, in particular fruit & vegetable traffic and the Ford plant at Almusafes, where the company plans to convert the internal network to 1435 mm gauge.
The former FEVE system and the branch north of Madrid between Cercedilla and Los Cotos are 1000 mm.
There are more gauge-changing installations (cambiadores de anchos) in Spain than anywhere else in Europe, as follows. Only those installations which carried commercial passenger or freight traffic are listed.
|Burgos Rosa de Lima||2021?||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Basque region services|
|3 km north of Granada||2021?||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Almeria Altaria services via Antequera SA|
In Use (Oldest first)
|Cerbère||1952||Axle changer||Freights to & from France|
|Hendaye||1950||Axle changer||Freights to & from France|
|Madrid Puerta de Atocha||1992||Talgo||Gijon/Santander - Alicante services and transfers to Las Matas. Note that this installation will go out of use for passenger trains when the standard gauge tunnel through Madrid opens.|
|Sevilla Majarabique||1993||Talgo||Madrid - Cádiz and Huelva|
|Plasencia de Jalón||2003||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Pamplona and Logroño|
|Zaragoza-Delicias||2003. Regular use from 15 September 2008.||Talgo/CAF||Barcelona - Salamanca/Galicia/Asturias/Basque region services. Also diesel unit transfers to workshops. Note: a plan for an installation at Miraflores, to the east of Zaragoza, was abandoned.|
|Antequera-Santa Ana||17 December 2006||2 x Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Algeciras Altaria services. Madrid - Granada services ceased in 2015.|
|Madrid Chamartin||2007||Talgo/CAF||Gijon/Santander - Alicante services and transfers to Fuencarral. Note that this installation will almost certainly go out of use for passenger trains when the standard gauge tunnel through Madrid opens.|
|Valdestillas [south of Valladolid]||22 December 2007||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Bilbao/Irún. Note that this installation will almost certainly go out of use when the high speed line to Burgos opens.|
|Sevilla Majarabique||15 June 2009, replacing one dating from 1999||CAF||No regular use now that the Cádiz - Jaen high speed service has been withdrawn|
|Acolea [east of Córdoba]||15 June 2009 - 27 July 2013. In use again 5 October 2020||Talgo/CAF||Cádiz - Jaen high speed service, which was withdrawn after 27 July 2013. However use resumed from 5 October 2020 by the Tore Oro Barcelona - Sevilla service.|
|València Joaquín Sorolla||19 December 2010||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Castelló de la Plana Alvia (not AVE) services.|
|Albacete||19 December 2010 - 18 June 2013. In use again 17 September 2018||Talgo/CAF||Initially Madrid - Alacant & València Alvia services. Out of use after the high speed lines to these cities were opened. Not used by Madrid - Murcia/Cartagena services until 2018, when these became variable gauge Alvia trains.|
|Vilecha [León]||30 September 2015||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Asturias services not calling at León; Madrid services using the Iberian gauge platforms at León|
|León Clasificación||30 September 2015||Talgo/CAF||Asturias and Galicia services using the standard gauge platforms at León|
|Villamuriel de Cerrato [south of Palencia]||30 September 2015||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Cantabria (Santander) services|
|Medina del Campo AVE||17 December 2015||CAF||Madrid - Salamanca services|
|La Boella (Tarragona)||13 January 2020||2 x Talgo/CAF||Barcelona - Valencia etc Euromed and Alvia services|
|Pedralba de la Pradería [NW of Zamora]||27 October 2020||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Galicia services|
Out of Use or Dismantled (Most recent first)
|Zamora||1 February 2016 - 27 October 2020||Talgo||Madrid - Galicia services. Replaced by Pedralba de la Pradería.|
|Medina del Campo||10 April 2008 - 1 February 2016||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Galicia services; diverted to new line from 1 February 2016|
|Valladolid Campo Grande||Spring 2008 - 12 September 2015||Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Basque region. It is thought this was removed to make room for standard gauge tracks north of Campo Grande.|
|Irún||1981 - 15 December 2013||Talgo||Talgo trains between Madrid and France. Out of use.|
|Portbou||1969 - 15 December 2013||Talgo||Talgo trains between Barcelona and France. Dismantled.|
|Huesca||2003 - 28 April 2008||CAF||Out of use since through services to Jaca were withdrawn|
|Roda de Bará||19 December 2006 - 20 February 2008||2 x Talgo/CAF||Madrid - Barcelona Alvia & Talgo services. Out of use|
|Puigverd de Lleida||19 May 2006 - 19 December 2006||CAF||Madrid - Barcelona Alvia. Out of use|
|Lleida||2003 - 19 December 2006||Talgo||Madrid - Barcelona Talgo. Out of use|
|Córdoba||1992 - 17 December 2006||Talgo||Madrid - Malaga Talgos. Out of use.|
The standard RENFE system is 3000 V dc. The AVE lines are 25 kV 50 Hz, and also Medina del Campo AV - Salamanca - and eventually to Vilar Formoso (Portuguese border). The Euskotren and FEVE systems in northern Spain, the Madrid Cercanias Cercedilla - Los Cotos line and the SFM Mallorca system are 1500 V dc.
Rule of the road
Generally right-hand running. Broad-gauge routes of the former FC del Norte, north and west of Madrid, are left-hand running. The changeover between left- and right-hand occurs by means of flyovers at the Las Rozas triangle: right-hand running applies south (towards Príncipe Pio) and east (toward Chamartín) of Las Rozas. However, right-hand running applies on the Madrid Chamartín - Valladolid - León, Olmedo - Zamora (although this is largely single track) and Ourense - Santiago de Compostela LAVs and on the upgraded Vigo - Santiago de Compostela - A Coruña line. The former FEVE [now RENFE] metre gauge lines in the Oviedo area are left-hand running, including the El Berrón Crossing, although they are reversibly signalled.
There is no good source for the network as a whole. However, comprehensive information for the high speed network exists on the Ferropedia website.
- Eusko Tren (Eusko Trenbideak, Ferrocarriles Vascos): Bilbao - Donostia [San Sebastían] - Hendaia [Hendaye]; Bilbao: Lutxana - Sondika; Kukullaga-Etxebarri - Sondika - Lezama; Amorebieta - Bermeo; Errekalde - Lasarte-Oria; Herrera - Altza; Bilbao Metro line 3: 1000 mm gauge, 1500 V dc.
- Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC): Local services around Barcelona, principally Plaça d'Espanya to Igualada and Manresa (1000 mm gauge, 1500 V dc) and Plaça de Catalunya to Terrassa and Sabadell (1435 mm gauge, 1200 V dc), plus the rack lines Ribes de Freser - Núria in the Pyrenees and Monistrol - Montserrat ( both 1000 mm gauge, 1500 V dc) and the Lleida - Pobla de Segur branch, recently taken over from RENFE. Also freight-only branches Manresa to Suria and Sallent, and San Boi de Llobregat to Barcelona Docks [Morrot] (1000 mm gauge, diesel).
- Ferrocarriles de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV) operates a network in Valencia (1000 mm gauge, 1500/750 V dc). Apart from sections of the Valencia tramway, these were converted from former FEVE lines, connected via new city centre through "metro" routes. Also Alacant - Creueta (1000 mm gauge, 750 V dc) and El Creueta - Benidorm - Dénia (electrification at 1500V dc in progress from Creueta, 1000 mm gauge).
- Ferrocarril de Palma de Mallorca a Sóller: Palma - Sóller. 914 mm gauge. Electrified at 1200 V dc.
- Serveis Ferroviaris de Mallorca (SFM): Palma - Sa Pobla and Manacor (1000 mm gauge). Electrification at 1500V through to Manacor was completed by January 2019.
- CIFVM Museo del Tren: La Poveda - La Laguna del Campillo, in the suburbs south east of Madrid
- The Museo del Ferrocarril de Asturias in Gijón has a short ~ 150 m dual 60/75 cm passenger carrying demonstration line for industrial locos.
- Museo Vasco del Ferrocarril (Basque Railway Museum); Azpeitia - Lasao: 10 km; 1000 mm gauge. The infrastructure is managed by ETS - Euskal Trenbide Sarea - the infrastructure authority for the Basque Region.
- El Ferrocarril Turístic de l'Alt Llobregat El Tren del Ciment; La Pobla de Lillet - Museum del Ciment; 3.5 km; narrow gauge.
- El Tren de Arganda Vapormadrid in Arganda del Rey on the south east outskirts of Madrid. La Poveda - Laguna del Campillo; 3.5 km; narrow gauge.
- Pargue Temático de la Minería y el Ferrocarril de Utrillas: in Utrillas north east of Teruel; restored 3.2 km of the former mine line connecting the Santa Bárbara Pozo (shaft) with the Carbón Lavadero (washery); 600 mm gauge,
- Museo Minero y Ferroviario in the Parque Minero de Riotinto: 11 km of the former Rio Tinto mineral system; Talleres Mina - Los Frailes, north of Huelva; 1067mm gauge, .
Barcelona, Bilbao (line 3 is operated by Euskotren), Madrid, Malaga, Palma, Sevilla, Valencia.
Information on metros is given a:-
- Barcelona Metro [and tramway] at TMB Website.
- Bilbao Metro at Bilbao Metro.
- Madrid Metro at Metro de Madrid.
- Malaga Metro at MM Website.
- Palma Metro at Metro Palma.
- Sevilla Metro at Metro de Sevilla.
- Valencia Metro at Metrovalencia.
Basic line diagrams and other details can be found at the UrbanRailNet website
A track plan for the Barcelona system is available on the carto.metro.tramway.rer.funiculaire site.
Alacant/Alicante, A Coruña (suspended since 2011), Barcelona, Bilbao, Cádiz-Jerez (Train-tram opening heavily delayed, none known), Granada, Jaén (After brief operation in May 2011 resumption of service is allegedly unlikely before 2021....) Madrid, Murcia, Parla, Sevilla, Sóller (Mallorca), Tenerife, Valencia, Vitoria/Gasteiz, Zaragoza.
The Sóller tram, owned by the Ferrocarril de Sóller S.A., is more of a tourist operation.
Track plans for the Alacant/Alicante, Madrid, Sóller and Valencia light rail and tram systems are available on the Gleisplanweb site. Track plans for the Barcelona and Tenerife systems are available on the carto.metro.tramway.rer.funiculaire site.
Some links are also available on the Sinfin.net site.
Recent and future changes
Changes in 2020
- The Zamora - Pedralba de la Pradería (- Ourense) LAV opened on 27 October. The 1668 mm gauge line between Puebla de Sanabria and Pedralba de la Pradería thereby lost its passenger service.
- The 'Garcia Lorca' between Barcelona and Sevilla was renamed the 'Torre Oro' from 5 October and formed of variable gauge stock. This had the effect of reopening the line through the Alcolea gauge changer east of Còrdoba.
- The service between Cáceres and Valencia de Alcantara ceased on presumably 15 March, when the national lockdown started. It had not resumed as at December 2020 and is unlikely to do so.
- Owing to modernisation work on the Toses tunnel, the service between Ribes de Freser and Puigcerdá/La Tour de Carol is bus substituted from 22 June until 7 February 2021.
- Avant services between Granada and Sevilla started on 16 February, reopening Loja station, but running via Córdoba.
- On 22 January the bridge over the river Tordera between Malgrat and Blanes, on the Barcelona - Mataro - Maçanet-Massanes line, was washed away. Services are bustituted between Malgrat and Blanes.
- The Camp de Tarragona - Vandellòs LAV opened on 13 January. The line east of La Boella is 1435 mm gauge but west of there is initially 1668 mm gauge with gauge convertible sleepers. The existing 1668 mm gauge line between Vandellós and Port Aventura closed on the same day.
Changes in 2019
- On 9 September Bermeo trains were diverted via the Bilbao Metro L3 line, thus withdrawing services between Bilbao Atxuri and Kukullaga.
- The Antequera Santa Ana - Granada line opened to traffic on 26 June 2019 but only for 1435 mm gauge high speed services. It comprises a ca 62 km 1435 mm gauge new line from Antequera Santa Ana to Venta del Rayo, with mixed 1435/1668 mm gauge on the existing line thence to Granada. The original 1668 mm gauge line closed to all traffic on 7 April 2015 for the conversion to mixed gauge. This (re)opening also resulted in withdrawal of the Talgo service between Granada and Madrid via the 'classic' main line, closing once again the curve between Moreda station and Bif. Almeria.
- The line between Bobadilla and Algeciras reopened from 14 May, having been closed since 21 October 2018 owing to storm damage.
- The Valencia Cercanias line (route C2) between L’Alcúdia de Crespins and Moixent, closed on 2 March 2010, reopened on 15 May.
- The Variante de Camarillas, an 18.6 km cutoff between Agramón and Cieza on the Albacete - Murcia line, opened on 21 March. The former route via Calasparra closed completely on 2 March to allow the new line to be connected.
- SFM electric services from Enllaç to Manacor commenced on 8 January and the purely interchange station at Enllaç closed. All train services on Mallorca are now electric.
Changes in 2018
- One track of the new Alicante Serra Grossa 1.5 km tram tunnel opened on 18 December.
- Owing to continuing delays with the route upgrade work between Antequera and Granada, a daily Talgo service between Granada and Madrid via the 'classic' main line was introduced from 26 November, reopening the curve between Moreda station and Bif. Almeria after several years with no service.
- Owing to the start of work on the future LAV from Murcia, services to Almeria were cut back on 14 November to the former station of Huercal-Viator. A provisional terminal station has been provided here, with a bus connection to Almeria. The line into Almeria will be put underground south of El Puche level-crossing, located about 2.5 km from the current Almeria station.
- On SFM Mallorca, Electric services from Enllaç - Sa Pobla commenced on 29 October. Passengers for Manacor still had to change to a DMU at Enllaç.
- A severe storm hit parts of Andalucia on 21 October, resulting in the destruction of the bridge over the Río Blanco, between Osuna and Pedrera on the Sevilla - Osuna - Antequera SA line. There is at present a replacement bus service. The storm also damaged the Algeciras line, resulting in total closure between Bobadilla and Algeciras.
- The existing line between Valorio tunnel (3 km west of Zamora) and La Hiniesta closed on the evening of 3 August. A new line to replace it opened on 8 August.
- A new station in Huelva opened on 25 April, 800 metres east of the old station, which was thereupon closed.
- The 7 km Pobra de San Xiao cutoff (between Pedrelo-Celtigos and Lugo) opened to public traffic on 24 April.
- Owing to TGV Duplex sets not being authorised to run in Spain, the only cross-border passenger movements between Hendaye and Irun from December 2017 were in the direction Spain to France. There are no equivalent standard gauge movements in the opposite direction. However train 313 the Sud Express to Lisboa has started from Hendaye from an unknown date in spring 2018, possibly the first advertised broad gauge train to run in this direction.
- Madrid - València AVE services were extended to Castelló de la Plana on 23 January following the addition of a third rail to the existing line to create a mixed 1435/1668 mm gauge line.
Changes in 2017
- The new 15.9 km Granada tram system (with 2.7 km underground in the centre) opened on 21 Sept, delayed from the original target of 2012 by finance issues.
- The FGC Vallès line extension from Sabadell Plaça Major to Sabadell Parc del Nord opened on 20 July.
- On 8 April EuskoTren opened the 6 km Bilbao Metro line 3 from Kukullaga-Etxebarri to Matiko (Ciudad Jardin) and reopened Matiko - Sondika (- Lezama), including a 1.9 km tunnel between Matiko and La Ola to replace the existing sharply-curved single-track alignment. This is the first stage of the new line between Bilbao city centre and the airport. Contrary to expectations, Lutxana - Sondika did not close
- Arriondas to Ribadesella, on the FEVE line east of Oviedo, was electrified from Easter 2017
For details of older changes dating back to the year 2005 see Spain - Older General Information.
Standard gauge lines
- Work should have started in 2019 on construction of a dedicated high speed line between València and Castelló de la Plana, which could be finished by 2022.
- The third, standard gauge Madrid cross-city tunnel between Atocha and Chamartín to link the existing AVE lines north and south of Madrid, was announced as opening during the second quarter of 2020. This was the first time in ten years that the Government had committed to a specific date! However, the Covid-19 outbreak has disrupted work and it was hoped to be "in the second half of the year". When the new tunnel opens there will initially be no platforms at Atocha. The plans for Atocha include building new underground platforms serving the line to Chamartín. However, these will be in a box underneath the existing westernmost platforms, which will require their temporary closure during the construction phase. This requires that some services calling at Atocha are diverted during this period to reduce the demand for platform space. To accommodate this a “temporary” single track bore has been constructed to the east of where the platform box will be. This will enable some services from the south and east to be diverted to Chamartín but with no stop (or indeed platform or passenger access) at Atocha. It is understood that services to and from València will be diverted in this way.
- The (Valladolid -) Venta de Baños - Burgos high speed line (91.3 km, suitable for both passenger and freight traffic) was supposed to be available for test running by summer 2018 but substandard work on Frandovínez viaduct required it to be demolished and rebuilt. This was completed in 2019 and the required load tests were successfully carried out. Tracklaying, overhead wiring and signalling were to have been completed in the first quarter of 2020. Driver training was in progress in October 2020 and the line is expected to open in spring 2021.
- A new curve is being built at Almodóvar del Río, to avoid Avant services between Sevilla and Granada/Málaga having to reverse at Córdoba. The projected opening date is not known.
- Avant regional high-speed services between Granada and Malaga will not start until the new station of Antequera Ciudad is complete. This would result in the opening to traffic of the south <> east curve at Antequera Santa Ana.
- It is understood that the Madrid - Almeria service will be diverted via the LAV to Granada and then the gauge changer to be built north east of there. This will very probably mean that Linares-Baeza - Moreda will lose its passenger service.
- The Alacant - Elx - Murcia LAV inauguration was expected in summer 2018 but had not occurred as at January 2021.
- In April 2012 the Minister for Public Works announced that the Mediterranean Corridor was to be equipped for standard gauge freight traffic by converting one track of the existing main line to dual gauge. Castellbisbal (Barcelona) - Valencia was supposed to be in service by 2015 and Valencia - Alacant by 2016. However only in May 2019 were tenders invited for the work on the last section between Sagunto and Castellon. This should be completed in 2022.
- Following the opening of the line between Perpignan (France) and Figueres Vilafant, some sections of the Figueres – Barcelona line are available for through UIC gauge freight traffic but the others require freights to use interlaced track on the existing main line.
- Public consultation has started on the Burgos - Miranda de Ebro - Vitoria/Gasteiz line. The alignment has already been decided for the Burgos - Pancorbo section but there are six options for the Pancorbo - Vitoria/Gasteiz. Work is in progress on the 'Basque Y', the high speed line from Vitoria/Gasteiz to both Bilbao (90.8 km) and San Sebastián/Donostia (- Irún) (89.8 km from the start at Bergara to the French frontier). It is unclear what progress has been made on the construction and when the line(s) will open. The San Sebastian line will terminate between Hernani and Astigarraga, about 5 km south of San Sebastián. A contract was awarded in April 2016 to install mixed-gauge track between this point and and Irún. Consultation has also started on a line, suitable for both passenger and freight traffic, to connect the Basque Y with Pamplona. There are two options.
- Construction has started of the first section of the 186 km long Almería - Murcia high speed line.
- A single track electrified freight line, able to accommodate three gauges [1000/1435/1668 mm], is to be built to provide access to the southern end of the Barcelona Docks complex using part of a former FGC alignment.
1668 mm gauge lines
- An 11 km section of the incomplete Antequera - Sevilla high speed line, between Osuna and Pedrera, was commissioned in May 2019. This replaced the former line over the Río Blanco bridge, on the Sevilla - Osuna - Antequera SA 'classic' line, which was destroyed by floods on 21 October 2018. Agreement was thought to have been reached on 16 October 2019 to resolve the bureaucratic problem preventing trains from running: the new line is owned by the Junta (regional government) of Andalucia but RENFE services are permitted to run only on lines owned by the national government. However, political problems arose which prevented the line opening. A compromise was eventually reached: in return for the Junta transferring ownership of this section, they would be compensated for the cost of its construction. However there still appear to be bureaucratic problems and it is not known when the line will open.
- Following the reopening of the Valencia Cercanias line between L’Alcúdia de Crespins and Moixent on 15 May 2019, it is thought that all services were to be diverted over this line whilst the parallel main line is closed for conversion to 1435 mm. However no information was available as at January 2021.
- The first part of the Bay of Cádiz tram - train system was expected to open in 2018, but this had not occurred as at January 2021.
- At Cádiz a ca. 5 km new single track freight branch is to be provided to access the Port facilities at La Cabezuela. This will be by continuation of the short branch to Universidad station off the Sevilla — Cádiz line.
- At Ferrol a ca. 6 km new single track [1000 and 1668 mm gauge] freight branch, some 5 km in tunnel, is to be provided to the outer port.
- Construction has begun of a new 4.5 km rail link between Barcelona-El Prat Airport and El Prat de Llobregat; it was to be completed in 2018 but this had not occurred as at January 2021.
- Zaragoza - Teruel - Sagunt (Port). Upgrade work is in progress to improve access to the port, including removal of speed restrictions between Teruel and Barracas, general upgrading of the infrastructure and provision of more freight loops. This was to be completed in 2020. In January 2021 tenders were invited for electrification of the line at 25 kV 50 Hz in order to be compatible with the sections of high speed network designed for mixed traffic. The work was expected to take 24 months.
- León station. A new 1.6 km connection will be built to link the Madrid line directly with the Oviedo line, restoring through traffic via León station, where an underground platform will be provided. Completion was planned in 2018 but this had not occurred as at January 2021.
- León-Asturias high speed line: La Robla - Pola de Lena (- Oviedo) including the Pajares tunnels, was scheduled to enter service in 2014. However, signalling and electrification contracts were awarded only in 2014, and the project has been subject to many issues: geological, funding and indecision on which gauge to use. It is now not expected to open until some time between 2021 and 2025, with plans as at mid 2017 for it to be a purely standard gauge tunnel with a gauge changer at Pola de Lena. The existing steeply graded and extremely circuitous line would then be upgraded to take longer and larger freights although it has also been suggested as being laid to dual gauge for FEVE freights or even transferred to FEVE for conversion to a metre gauge tourist line.
- Following abandonment of the Madrid - Caceres - Merida - Badajoz (- Lisboa) high speed line, the Spanish section has been scaled back considerably. All that will be built is a single track unelectrified 1668 mm gauge Plasencia - Caceres - Badajoz "línea de altas prestaciones" ('high performance line'). This is at present under construction including connecting curves from the West enabling trains to either call at or avoid Plasencia. Opening was planned for 2019 but there was no sign of progress as at June 2020. Electrification of this isolated new Plasencia - Caceres - Badajoz section was planned to start in 2020.
- Sevilla - Cádiz. Doubling is taking place at many locations between Jerez de La Frontera and Cadiz Cortadura. In the longer term the entire line may be converted to 1435 mm gauge.
- There are plans to divert the main line through Valladolid into a tunnel with a new underground station. Construction started on a new 1668 mm freight bypass to the east but the current situation is unknown.
Metre gauge lines
- The scheme to convert the León - San-Feliz section of the FEVE León - Bilbao into a tramway has now been abandoned and re-instatement of a single track metre gauge heavy rail line back into León was initiated early in 2014. However this work has been suspended because of technical difficulties.
- A new 4.2 km Euskotren cross-city route through Donostia/San Sebastian, between Lugaritz and a point south of Amara, is under construction. It will replace the present Amara terminus, avoiding the need to reverse there. Completion is scheduled in 2022.
Lines with a limited future
A number of lines have had passenger services severely pruned, and some lines may close.
- It is possible that the 'classic' line between Zamora and the future gauge changer at Taboadela, near Ourense, will close when the high speed line on this route opens.
- It is understood that the Madrid - Almeria service will be diverted via the high speed line to Granada and then the gauge changer to be built north east of there. This will almost certainly mean that Linares-Baeza - Moreda will lose its passenger service. Indeed, it is thought that there may be no freight traffic, so the line may close completely.
- Salamanca La Alamedilla – Vilar Formoso [Portugal]: the Madrid - Lisboa Tren Hotel is suspended as at January 2021 and may be withdrawn altogether, leaving this line with no service.
- Huelva - Zafra: although this line has been substantially relaid, both the local service between Huelva and Jabugo-Galaroza and the IC service between Huelva and Madrid are under threat of withdrawal.
- Cercedilla - Segovia: the slow Regionales service over the section beyond this interchange for the narrow gauge line to Los Cotos is threatened by Avant services to the new Segovia Guiomar station on the high speed line to Vallodolid. Indeed, the service beyond Cercedilla was drastically reduced on 16 November 2008.
- (Huesca -) Jaca - Canfranc. Work was to start on renovation of the Canfranc line between Jaca and Caldearenas, but this was then cancelled.
- It appears that Torralba - Soria is at present subsidised by Castilla y León. This could be at risk if the subsidy is withdrawn but Soria is a provincial capital, so may therefore be safe.
RENFE operates a confusingly wide range of train types, and special fares apply on those that are fastest or offer superior facilities.
- AVE (originally meaning Alta Velocidad Española): High speed trains operating over the 1435 mm gauge lines: Madrid - Córdoba - Sevilla, Malaga and Granada; Madrid - Zaragoza - Camp de Tarragona - Barcelona; Madrid - Zaragoza - Huesca; Madrid - Cuenca - Valencia; Madrid - Valladolid - León; Madrid - Albacete - Alicante/Alacant; Barcelona - Sevilla and Malaga; Valencia - Sevilla. Also the international services: Madrid - Barcelona - Marseille; Barcelona - París, Lyon and Toulouse.
- Euromed: High speed train between Barcelona, Valencia and Alacant.
- Talgo: Express train using articulated, light weight carriages. Some sets can change their gauge and/or operate on high-speed lines. Where technically identical, they differ from Altaria services by lower on-board service and comfort level.
- Alaris: Tilting trains on 1668 mm gauge lines.
- Altaria: High speed loco hauled Talgo200 trains between Madrid and Algeciras, Murcia and Cartagena, which operate on both 1668 mm and 1435 mm gauge lines. Where technically identical, they differ from Talgo services by higher on-board service and comfort level.
- Alvia: High speed trains which operate on both 1668 mm and 1435 mm gauge lines on the following routes: Madrid - Valencia - Castellón; Alicante/Alacant - Madrid - Vigo, A Coruña, Gijón and Santander; Madrid - Sevilla - Cádiz; Madrid - Huelva; Madrid - Segovia - Salamanca & Zamora; Madrid - Vigo - Pontevedra; Madrid - A Coruña; Madrid - Valladolid - Bilbao and Vitoria; Madrid - San Sebastián - Irún; Madrid - Pamplona & Logrono; Barcelona - Zaragoza - Valladolid, Gijon, A Coruña & Vigo; Barcelona - Zaragoza - Pamplona - Irún; Barcelona - Zaragoza - Bilbao.
- Avant: Media Distancia high speed trains operating over shorter distances on the 1435 mm gauge high speed lines: Madrid - Segovia - Valladolid; Madrid - Toledo; Madrid - Puertollano; Calatayud - Zaragoza; Barcelona - Lleida; Barcelona - Girona; Málaga - Córdoba - Sevilla; Ourense - Santiago - A Coruña.
- Trenhotel: Overnight trains with additional facilities, such as showers. Madrid - A Coruña and Ferrol; Barcelona - A Coruña and Vigo; Madrid - Lisboa.
- Tren Regional Diesel (TRD) and R-598: Longer distance local trains.
- Regional Exprés: Interurban local train. In some areas these have a local identity, for example Andalucía Exprés.
- Regional: Rural local train.
- Cercanías: Suburban train.
Connections between Grandes Lineas and Regionales trains may not wait in event of late running. Indeed, in spite of some reasonable connections being generated by the RENFE website, the minimum connectional time generally recognised is 60 minutes.
Airport style luggage security checks using X-ray machines are made for nearly all main line services.