The Madrid Cercanías trains are the local commuter trains that serve Madrid and its metropolitan area. These suburban Madrid trains cross the city center, and run frequently to small towns in the outskirts.
The Madrid Cercanías comprises 11 railway lines and are managed by Renfe Operadora. It’s a public company in charge of managing all the passenger train routes throughout Spain.
Renfe currently operates 370 km (230 mi) of railway infrastructure and 89 stations (20 of them linked to the Metro) in the Madrid region (Comunidad Autónoma).
If you plan to take the train to travel around Spain, you should definitely have a look at my complete guide on train travel in Spain.
The Cercanías or commuter service comprises 9 railway lines that run all over the Madrid region. The suburban service lines currently offer the following routes:
C-1 (light blue): Príncipe Pío – Atocha – Nuevos Ministerios – Chamartín – Aeropuerto T4
C-2 (dark green): Guadalajara – Alcalá – Atocha – Chamartín
C-3 (purple): Aranjuez – Atocha – Sol – Chamartín
C-3a (pink): Aranjuez – Atocha – Sol – Chamartín – El Escorial – Santa María de la Alameda
C-4a (dark blue): Parla – Atocha – Sol – Chamartín – Cantoblanco – Alcobendas-San Sebastián de los Reyes
C-4b (dark blue): Parla – Atocha – Sol – Chamartín – Cantoblanco – Colmenar Viejo
C-5 (yellow): Móstoles-El Soto – Atocha – Fuenlabrada – Humanes
C-7 (red): Alcalá de Henares – Atocha – Chamartín – Príncipe Pío
C-8 (grey): Guadalajara – Alcalá de Henares – Atocha – Chamartín – Villalba – Cercedilla
C-9 (orange): Cercedilla – Cotos
C-10 (light green): Villalba – Príncipe Pío – Atocha – Recoletos – Chamartín – Aeropuerto T4
Except C-9, they all leave from Atocha or pass through it, making it Madrid’s most important transportation hub.
For more information, you can download a Cercanías map that provides all the details.
Cercanías trains start running every day between 5:00 and 6:00 and stop at around midnight.
Trains normally run every 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the line. At weekends and in the evening they are less frequent, and you may have to wait up to 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the time.
The price of the Cercanías train tickets varies according to the distance covered. You can buy, for example, a single ticket or a Bonotren with ten trips.
Do not throw out your Cercanías train ticket and receipt until you are well away from your destination train station. On arriving at your destination you will need your ticket again in order to exit the train platform area.
You can also take the Cercanías within the city. Getting from the stations of Chamartín to Atocha, for example, is much faster on this local train than by Metro.
Cercanías trains are very useful if you plan to include one or several day trips from Madrid.
Alternatively, you can also read more about getting to Madrid by train from other cities in Spain.
Consider purchasing a Renfe Spain Pass, if you are thinking about an itinerary around Spain using the train to move between cities.