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Madrid Trains: Cercanías

Madrid trains 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).

The Cercanías trains are the local commuter trains that serve major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. These are suburban trains that cross Madrid’s city center, and run frequently to small towns and points of interest in the city outskirts.


Madrid Trains Network

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-4 (dark blue): Parla – Atocha – Sol – Chamartín / Cantoblanco – Alcobendas / Cantoblanco – Colmenar Viejo

C-5 (yellow): Móstoles El Soto – Atocha – Fuenlabrada – Humanes

C-7 (red): Alcalá de Henares – Atocha – Chamartín – Príncipe Pío – Atocha – Chamartín – Fuente de la Mora

C-8 (dark green): Atocha – Chamartín / Villaba – El Escorial / Villalba – Cercedilla

C-9 (orange): Cercedilla – Cotos

C-10 (light green): Villalba – Príncipe Pío – Atocha – Chamartín – Pitis – Fuente de la Mora

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.

The Cercanías start running every day around 5:00 and stop at around midnight. Trains normally pass by every 10 to 30 minutes.

renfe appDownload the Renfe App (for iPhone or Android) to access a complete schedule of all Cercanías trains. Tap on the map to see all the information about every station and the updated schedules from your chosen origin and destination. Alternatively, you can also check the Cercanías schedules at Renfe’s website.


Tickets And Fares

The price varies according to the distance covered. You can buy a single ticket or a bonotren with ten trips. In some areas, you can use the same transport tickets as you would for Metro and buses.

Do not throw out your Cercanías train tickets or and receipts, until you are well away from your destination train station. On arriving at your destination you may need your ticket again in order to exit the train platform area.

If you purchase an AVE or long distance train ticket you entitled to a free Cercanías ticket. This Cercanías ticket can be used 3 hours before your AVE or long distance train departure and 3 hours after its arrival. For example if you catch an AVE from Seville arriving to Madrid at 13:00, you can then go to El Escorial on a Cercanías train departing as late as 18:00 from Atocha.


Main Cercanías Train Stations

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.

  • Atocha. Madrid’s main station is the most important Cercanías hub. As I mentioned before, all the lines leave from or go through it. It is also a Metro station (line 1 – light blue) and many EMT buses stop here.
  • Chamartín. It the second big station of the city and all Cercanías lines (except C-5 and C-9) stop here. The station is also well connected with 2 subway lines (line 1 – light blue, and line 10 – dark blue) stopping.
  • Sol. Located in the city center, Sol station has 2 Cercanías lines (C-3 and C-4) and 3 Metro lines (line 1 – light blue, line 2 – red, and line 3 – yellow).
  • Nuevos Ministerios. It is also a very important transportation hub. All Cercanías lines (except C-5 and C-9) stop here. Additionally, Metro lines 6 (grey), 8 (pink) and 10 (dark blue) go through the station.
  • Recoletos. Smaller than Nuevos Ministerios but also very well located in the city center. Lines C-1, C-2, C-7 and C-10 stop here.
  • Méndez Álvaro. Apart from being a Cercanías train station, it is also Madrid’s biggest bus station (also known as Estación Sur). Lines C-1, C-5, C-7 and C-10 stop here. The subway station connects with line 6 (grey).


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.