Rail transport in Spain

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AVE Tarragona-Madrid.jpg
High-speed AVE train, Madrid-Barcelona line.
National railwayRenfe Operadora
Infrastructure companyAdif
Major operatorsRENFE, FEVE, EuskoTren, FGC, FGV
Ridership487.88 million (RENFE, 2017)
84.54 million (FGC, 2017)[1]
System length
Total16,026 km (9,958 mi)
Electrified10,182 km (6,327 mi)
Track gauge
Broad gauge
1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in)
11,829 km (7,350 mi)
Standard gauge
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
3,100 km (1,900 mi)
Metre gauge
1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
1,926 km (1,197 mi)
Narrow gauge
914 mm (3 ft)
28 km (17 mi)
3000 V DCMain network
25 kV ACHigh-speed lines, recent electrification
Longest tunnelSierra de Guadarrama, 28.4 km (17.6 mi)

Rail transport in Spain operates on four rail gauges and services are operated by a variety of private and public operators. The total route length in 2012 was 16,026 km (10,182 km electrified).[2]

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,[3] including some dual gauging of broad-gauge lines, especially where these lines link to France, including platforms to be heightened.

Spain is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). The UIC Country Code for Spain is 71.


The first railway line in the Iberian Peninsula was built in 1848 between Barcelona and Mataró.[4] 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.[4]

In 1900 the first line to be electrified was the La Poveda-Madrid.[5]

In 1941 RENFE was created.[4]

The last steam locomotive was withdrawn in 1975, in 1986 the maximum speed on the railways was raised to 160 km/h, and in 1992 the Madrid-Seville high-speed line opened,[4] beginning the process of building a nationwide high-speed network.

The current plans of the Spanish government plans to link all the provincial capitals with high-speed rail, with a total estimated length of over 9000 km[6] of high-speed railways for 2020.


  • Renfe Operadora is a state-owned company which operates freight and passenger trains on the 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in) "Iberian gauge", 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 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").
  • Zamora station

  • Toledo station

  • Atocha station, Madrid

  • Estació del Nord, Valencia

  • Lleida-Pirineus station

Metro/light rail systems[edit]

Narrow gauge[edit]

In Spain there is an extensive 1,250 km (780 mi) system of metre gauge railways

High-speed standard gauge[edit]

Rail links with adjacent countries[edit]

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.[7] In 2015, the federal budget for the railways was €5.1 billion.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Railway Statistics – 2017 Synopsis" (PDF). International Union of Railways, IUC. 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  2. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Spain
  3. ^ Verkehrsrundschau, 2007-04-30
  4. ^ a b c d 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
  5. ^ Ferrotransmadrid Archived 2013-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Descubre la Alta Velocidad Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry p. 20-21" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Spanish railways battle profit loss with more investment". 17 September 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2016.

http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2012/feb/03/thomas-sowell-getting-nowhere-but-very-fast-in/?preventMobileRedirect=1 http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell013112.php3