The Madrid Cercanías services take on their biggest challenge in their 34-year history. The reform of the Chamartín station requires works that are incompatible with railway operation, and from February 4 until the end of 2023 one of the two tunnels that make up the main arteries of the capital’s train network and that connect the Atocha station with the one located in the north.
Specifically, the cut to be made affects the section between Nuevos Ministerios and Chamartín, where lines run that register the Community of Madrid from north to south. These are the C-3 line between Aranjuez and El Escorial, and the C-4 line, the most used on the Madrid network, which record the route between Parla and Cantoblanco, from where the trains divide their route to Colmenar Viejo or Alcobendas -Saint Sebastian of the kings.
To deal with these works, Renfe has provided an alternative transport plan that modifies the Cercanías services. The C-3 line will be divided into two lines: one between Aranjuez and Atocha, and another between El Escorial and Chamartín, trains that will later continue their journey to Alcalá de Henares and Guadalajara before passing through Recoletos and Atocha, converted into line services C-2. Similarly, line C-4 will also be divided into two routes: Parla-Nuevos Ministerios (serving Sol station) and Chamartín-Cantoblanco-Alcobendas/Colmenar Viejo.
The public operator assures that during these works the number and capacity of trains will increase by 15% more services and 6% more seats, some 40,000 more than usual. To inform about all these changes, it has hired 157 people who are added to the 550 who already work in the railway service, in addition to launching an information campaign with stickers on the trains, distribution of two million brochures, information desks or specific signage in stations.
For their part, the Railway Infrastructure Administrator (Adif) and the Ministry of Transport defend that the interruption of service in the Sol tunnel was the only option, given that the work to be carried out was “incompatible with railway operation”. Among the actions to be carried out, foundations will be made very close to the tracks or large beams will be installed on the platforms. Regarding the works on the tracks, Adif will mount new devices on tracks 1 to 6 of the station, update the interlocking and condition platforms 1, 2 and 3 in order to ensure a “more robust system”.
All of this, in order to expand the station’s real lobby and provide it with a new 2,300-square-meter pedestrian walkway that increases the space available for Cercanías commuters. The station structures will also be reinforced to adapt them to the future urban square that is projected. To all this is added the requirement of deadlines, since the action is financed by the funds of the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism and have a specific deadline to execute.
Once the works are finished, the station will be able to handle up to 30% more daily passengers only for Cercanías, something that is achieved with new connection flows between High Speed and Metro, such as the new vestibule under the commuter tracks that will be inaugurated in The month of february. Public investment increased a total of 326 million euros and is part of the process of radical transformation of this infrastructure, a key part of the Madrid Nuevo Norte operation.