Explore 250 of Madrid’s metro stations with this artist’s intricate drawings

Author: Leah Pattem

Entering, exiting, or transferring at a metro station is part of the daily routine for millions of people worldwide,” explains Albert Guillames Marcer, the artist behind 1,517 drawings of train and metro stations around European cities.

The layout of stations directly impacts people’s mobility. Some cities have taken intermodality (the desire to make using more than one mode of transport during a single journey as easy as possible) as a serious issue, while others have not given importance. Albert explains that there are several key aspects to ensure quality to the transfers: “distance, the lack of architectural barriers, timetable coordination and a good wayfinding system, among others.”

Over the last 10 years, Albert Guillaumes Marcer has drawn stations in almost 60 European cities, motivated by the curiosity of understanding how engineers were able to fit underground stations comprising four or five lines under Place de la République in Paris or the Puerta del Sol in Madrid.

From shallow narrow gauge to deep wide gauge

He examined how Madrid’s metro lines are subdivided into two types: narrow gauge, which the city’s older lines 1 to 5 run on, and wide gauge, belonging to newer lines 6 to 12. Madrid’s narrow gauge lines were inspired by the Paris metro and therefore the stations usually have side platforms on level -2 and a lobby on level -1. For example, Tirso de Molina:

Another example is one of the first stations ever built, Chamberí. The station became a ghost station for many years but has now been converted into a museum.

The first wide gauge lines (6-12) were designed to be more spacious, and typically circulate at a greater depth of between 15 and 25 metres below street level. From the street to the platforms there can be between three and five sections of automatic stairs, with a platform distributor and the lobby in the middle making access time to the platforms much longer than in narrow gauge stations.

You can see the difference in depth between a narrow gauge line (1) and a wide gauge line (10) at Tribunal station.

However, since the 1990s, there’s been a tendency to build new stations with a standardised design where tracks are not located so deep. The most noteworthy stations are the macro interchanges that have been built at the most important transport hubs in the city, allowing smooth transfer between metro, train and often intercity bus.

The clearest example is Nuevos Ministerios station, but Chamartín, Sol, Príncipe Pío and Plaza de Castilla are other examples.

Cross Platform Stations

This is a central platform with two tracks, where one track is for one line and the other track, for another line. Transshipment requires minimal effort. In some cities, train arrivals are coordinated or regulated, to avoid waiting. One example is Príncipe Pío.

Sandwich stations

In sandwich stations, lines cross more or less perpendicularly and the platforms are on top of each other. The transfer is flat and short, and you can change lines by going up or down just one flight of stairs, for example, at Colombia.

Long changes and eternal corridors

These types of stations, where you can find yourself walking in a straight tunnel for up to 10 minutes, are due to poor planning of the metro network. There are cities where corridors between station platforms have become part of the culture of the city and, in Madrid, they’re the perfect spot for a busker.

One example of this eternal corridor is Diego de León, with approximately 250 metres of pedestrian corridor.

Deep stations

One tends to think of London when referring to deep stations, but there are many metros that are built at similar depths, such as those in Budapest, Prague and other cities in ex-communist countries.

In Madrid, almost all stations built during the 1970s and 80s have four or five flights of stairs that separate the platforms from the street. What seem like deep stations here are actually relatively shallow, such as Atocha.

Head to Albert’s Stations and Transfers website to explore your local station!

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