ON MARCH 1 Spanish Development Minister Magdalena Álvarez unveiled plans to double the capacity for long-distance traffic at Atocha station in Madrid. By increasing the number of platform tracks from 15 to 33 and further segregating departures from arrivals, it is hoped to increase capacity from 18million to 35million passengers a year.

At present 9million passengers a year use the high speed routes fromAtocha to Sevilla, Toledo and Lleida as well as conventional services to southern and western Spain. As high speed construction continues, Atocha is expected to be handling 24million long-distance passengers a year by 2020, with a further 10million using Charmartín which is being connected to Atocha by a third cross-city tunnel specifically for high speed trains.

Design and planning approval are expected to take 18 months, and construction would take a further three years. Although the project will increase the number of parking spaces from 1000 to 3500, it is forecast that the number of passengers reaching Atocha by rail will increase from 43% to 55% and that by 2020 public transport (including buses and taxis) will be used by 86% of passengers to access the terminal.

Within a budget of €24·4m, tenders are to be called for construction of a new grade-separated junction south of the station that will allow suburban trains from Aranjuez and Parla that currently terminate at Atocha to reach the new cross-city tunnel to Chamartín via Sol and Alonso Martínez.

  • At a cost of €78·8m, Renfe’s Integria train maintenance business is to build a new five-track facility for high speed rolling stock at Fuencarral north of Chamartín station.