A review of 53 years of Chamartín station’s, from its origin as a small train stop to its future as a railway hub that is an international benchmark and the heart of the Spanish High-Speed Rail system (AVE, in Spanish).
Following its 50 years of history, Chamartín Station is about to grow its service to 42 million travellers per year, becoming the AVE’s main hub. The international tender has been called to materialise this decisive transformation of the rail infrastructure that has connected Madrid’s residents for decades.
This station’s history dates back to the Second Republic when the Government decided to structure the city of Madrid and improve its rail connection to northern Spain, building a new train station in the town of Chamartín. It was only in 1967 when the project was realised with a new passenger terminal and one platform. Over the years, owing to Madrid’s growing rail needs, its capacity was expanded with a new station, reinventing itself while becoming a symbol of the city’s growth. Ironically, its rail tracks would limit Madrid’s urban growth to the north. Over half a century after, this situation is now going to be resolved thanks to Madrid Nuevo Norte.
A small station in the town of Chamartín
En 1928, Madrid was about to reach the one million inhabitants milestone. It was decided that, given the growing communication infrastructure demands, a terminus would be built for the new railway line from Madrid to Burgos at the town of Chamartín de la Rosa. “It sought to ease the heavy traffic on the North Madrid-Ávila-Valladolid line”, explains Gonzalo Garcival, journalist, former editor-in-chief of the journal Vía Libre, of the Spanish Railway Foundation, and author of the book Estaciones de ferrocarril de España (Espasa-Calpe, 1995).
The earthworks for a temporary station began in 1933. However, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War brought the project to a standstill during decades. The project gained meaning as a link between northern Madrid and Atocha station, in the south; a much-needed railway axis that would run through the city from end to end. The tunnel that would bridge the 7.3 km gap between Atocha and the new temporary Chamartín station would be finally completed in 1967. The facilities consisted of just a small building built parallel to the tracks. However, 175 commuter and long-distance trains were already operated from this station, and the Madrid-Burgos line was inaugurated in 1968.