Madrid Barajas Terminal 4.

SPAIN: The government intends to revive proposals to run high speed passenger services to and from Madrid’s main airport at Barajas, Transport Minister José Luis Ábalos said at the FITUR international trade fair which was held in the capital on May 19-23.

Plans to operate inter-city services to the airport have been on the agenda for around 10 years. In 2011, a 4·7 km line was completed between the suburban network at Fuente de la Mora and Barajas Terminal 4, running mostly in tunnel and serving an intermediate station at Valdebebas. The tunnel section features dual-gauge slab track that was intended to enable 1 435 mm gauge high speed services to run to the airport, and catenary that can be energised at 25 kV AC as well as 3 kV DC.

However, the regular operation of high speed services over this route was dependent on completion of a 1 435 mm gauge link between Chamartín station in the city centre and Hortaleza, and this has yet to be finished.

Opening of the standard gauge cross-city tunnel between Atocha and Chamartín, expected later this year, may give renewed impetus to this work, as this would give rise to a wider range of potential origin and destination pairs to be served by trains to and from Barajas.

Official opening of the Madrid Barajas airport rail link Terminal 4 station.

Official opening of Barajas airport Terminal 4 station in 2011.

The transport ministry says it plans to call tenders during 2022 for the necessary infrastructure modifications to enable regular services to be operated over the dual-gauge section of line, initially sharing tracks with RENFE’s suburban services. However, this is at best seen as a stop gap option because of the limited paths available and the need to initially use dual-system trains. In addition, passengers using the Terminal 4 station must take a connecting shuttle bus to reach the rest of the airport’s terminals.

As a result, the government says it is planning to launch a feasibility study into options for a dedicated high speed line between Chamartín and Barajas. Preliminary analyses of demand and profitability suggest that this could be viable, but no formal timescale for further work has been announced.

  • The government has announced that in early June there will be a full restoration of those high speed services which were suspended in March 2020 on account of the pandemic.