100 years of the Metro of Madrid!

Something nice to talk about an achievement of tremendous proportions in a country battle by internal wars and the Metro of Madrid as one of its main places of attention. A metro started by a king and now running under a king! My Madrid, my beloved city of many nostalgic moments and happy encounters; the metro was all I had living just out from one of its entrances on Calle de Alcalà 331 metro line 5 Quintana.

There are of course better places to see the sights as walking but at the end we must travel faster and resting, a milestone in Madrid, 100 years of the metro , great history indeed. I would like to translate an article in the ABC newspaper of Madrid and hope you like it.

One hundred curiosities you should know in the centenary of the Madrid Metro. Ok not all but most, for the rest see the caption from the newspaper ABC at the end in Spanish; The source for this special post.

King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the Madrid Metro on October 17, 1919, the route of the current line 1 between Sol and Cuatro Caminos.

The Metro promoters set out to build it only with Spanish money.  King Alfonso XIII contributed a million pesetas from his personal account and, little by little, the ten million of the initial investment was gathered to create the «Alfonso XIII Metropolitan Company».

Before there were only 12 cities in the world ahead of Madrid: London (1863), New York (1868), Chicago (1892), Budapest (1896), Glasgow (1896), Boston (1897), Paris (1900 ), Berlin (1902), Athens (1904), Philadelphia (1907), Hamburg (1912) and Buenos Aires (1913).

The network currently has an extension of 294 km or about 182 miles. It is the seventh longest in the world in number of kilometers, behind Shanghai, Beijing, London, New York, Guangzhou, Seoul and Moscow.

In number of stations, with 301, Madrid is the fifth in the world, second only to New York (472), Shanghai (329), Seoul (308) and Paris (303). Metro de Madrid is the third network in Europe in number of kilometers, just behind London and Moscow.

The Madrid metro was born 100% electric, unlike those that existed then. The construction of the first metro line began on July 17, 1917. The opening to the public took place on October 31, 1919. The name of Metro is the abbreviation of the Metropolitan Railway of Madrid.

The people from Madrid, who until then went from Sol to Cuatro Caminos by tram, investing more than half an hour, checked how the same route was done in ten minutes.

The Alfonso XIII Metropolitan Company implemented the round trip ticket at the price of 20 cents of peseta, cheaper than the tram. The tram stopped circulating in Madrid in 1972 (while I was living in Madrid and took it to see my Aunt in Canillejas!).

The metro circulates on the left because in the year that the first Metro line was inaugurated, all vehicles circulated in that direction in Madrid. The current direction of movement was activated in 1924, when the Madrid metro was already built and it was an excessive expense to modify the progress of the trains. Light Rail lines do circulate on the right.

The Line 1 was originally called  Norte-Sur or North-South line. A few weeks after the start of the Spanish Civil War, on August 9, 1936, the first section of line 3 between Sol and  Embajadores was inaugurated.

During the Spanish Civil War the metro remained open and served regularly as a refuge during the bombings. Some stations were used by the Republican army as ammunition factories.  At the beginning of the war, the circulation of the north section of Isabel II (now Opera-Principe Pío line) was closed because the North Station area (now cercanias train station and shopping center Principe Pio) was practically occupied, so there were almost no passengers there. During the siege of General Franco’s troops, metro wagons transported both coffins and corpses to the cemeteries to the east.  The small Goya-Diego de León line was closed and used as an arsenal. In the tunnel between Lista and Diego de León, about 300 workers filled with shells. On January 10, 1938 one of the artifacts exploded and killed 18 men and 45 women.

Some stations changed their name under Franco’s regime. Thus, the current Principe de  Vergara was called General Mola ; and Gran Vía, was called José Antonio [Primo de Rivera]. They did not recover their name until 1983.

Given the increase in passengers in the early sixties, the length of the trains was increased, but at the Chamberí station it was impossible to expand its size due to its curved situation and its proximity to the Bilbao and Iglesia stops, so in 22 May 1966 the Metropolitan Company decided its closure. The ghost station of Chamberí can be visited.  You can also visit the Pacifico station motor ship, the most powerful in Spain in the 20s, but obsolete in the 50s and finally closed in the 70s. Between 1932 and 1958, line 2 branched from Goya to Diego de León. With the construction of line 4 the turn was closed, although the tunnel remains until today.

The single Metro ticket is unified, in 1956, at a single fare of 60 cents for any route. Multiple applied rates were eliminated depending on the destination station. The elevator of the José Antonio station, today Gran Vía, in 1959, had a fare of 10 cents. The subway ride cost 60 cents.

The first station with escalators was Portazgo, on line 1, in 1962. Today there are 1,700 throughout the network.

Before dogs could not access if they did not travel in a receptacle. Since 2016 they are authorized, although with limits. They can’t travel during peak hours, they must go in the last car, with muzzle and only one dog per traveler. The rest of the pets must travel in receptacles.

You can also carry the bicycle, but with limits. They can only go in the head or tail wagon, and cannot travel at peak times, except in 92 stations of peripheral sections, located mainly in the surroundings of the Casa de Campo and other parks.

On June 2, 1971, in the early afternoon, a heavy storm unloaded on some sectors of the capital. The force of water and hail acquired special virulence on the axis of the Paseo de la Castellana. In less than half an hour they dropped around eight liters per square meter, although the biggest problems came from hail. The exit of the Atocha Metro was covered by hail. I remember I was there and was awful to witness, my mother would not let me go out other than the our street Calle de Alcalà!

In 1970, Metro installed self-selling wallet machines. They gave no change.Right!  In 1974, with the commissioning of line 7, the implementation, first of all in this line, of the access turnstiles to the stations began. As of 1975 they are generalized in the rest of the network. In 2012 the magnetic ticket is replaced by contactless technology.

With the extension of line 6, the Cuatro Caminos station becomes the deepest, still until today, 45 meters from street level. In 1986, the City Council and the Community of Madrid assumed ownership of Metro. In 1987 the transport credit appears. A year later, the Young and Senior Citizens tickets appear .

From 1990, line 1 is prolonged and the circular of line 6 with the Laguna-Ciudad Universitaria section is closed.

In the Alto del Arenal station, on line 1, in Puente de Vallecas, is the central post, the neurological center of the Metro network.

Arroyo del Fresno, built in 1999 in the north of Line 7, between the Lacoma and Pitis stations, has never been opened due to lack of urban development at the time of its construction. With the neighborhood already consolidated, its inauguration is planned this spring 2020.

The highlight of the second expansion plan was the inauguration in 2003 of Metrosur, connecting Madrid with the cities of the south of the Community.

The old layout of the end of line 3, 550 meters, remains hidden behind a wall after the extension and reform of the line in 2007.  The last station to enter service has been Paco de Lucía, in the north of line 9, in 2015.

Travelers are entitled to a refund of the amount of the ticket when there is a suspension of the service, or when the train interval exceeds 15 minutes on journeys where the schedule provides for intervals of less than seven and a half minutes.

Travelers leaving trains have a preference for passing over those who wish to enter, according to Metro regulations. «Let out before entering».

The above again translated on some lines by yours truly from an article in the ABC Newspaper of Madrid; the full article in Spanish is here: ABC newspaper in Spanish on the curiosities of the 100 years of the Metro of Madrid

And there you go some info on the wonderful clean fast efficient Metro of Madrid; hope you enjoy the anecdotes of it above. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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2 Comments to “100 years of the Metro of Madrid!”

  1. Driving on the left is so much more sensible!

    Liked by 1 person

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