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What is the subway? 

The metro (short for metropolitan railway) is a system of urban trains in a city and its metropolitan area.

How is the subway commonly used? 

It’s a massive mode of passenger transport in large cities, linking various areas and their surroundings. It has high capacity and high frequency and is segregated from other transit systems. Metropolitan railways are built underground or above ground, though most systems use mixed models.

It is unrivaled in its ability to transport large numbers of people quickly over short distances using little land. The expansionary trend in the metro networks of large cities has led them to connect with other population centers around the periphery of the metropolitan area. Still, the type of service they provide remains perfectly independent and distinguishable from that provided by other rail transport systems.

What is trending in terms of metro design? 

Much of the new design and construction work related to the metro systems is being carried out in compliance with sustainability standards. New (or renovated) metro systems have energy efficient infrastructure that runs on renewable energy, uses efficient building materials, makes the most of natural light, and optimizes air conditioning, thus contributing to lowering CO2 emissions. 

On the other hand, the high frequency of trains in the metro networks has necessitated the installation of increasingly complex monitoring systems to ensure the lines’ safety and to organize traffic. The most commonly used systems are:

Isolated protection: when passing a beacon, the train monitors several parameters, such as speed or the status of the signals coming up. It’s called isolated automatic braking system (FAP in Spanish).

Continuous protection: the train is in constant communication with the systems on the track, which inform it of the conditions on the track ahead. Called ATP System (Automatic Train Protection).

Automatic driving: the train can keep running by itself and accelerate and brake as needed to maintain its route under the supervision of a driver. This system is typically used in conjunction with a protection system. Called an ATO System (Automatic Train Operation).

Multiple systems can be used at the same time. For instance, the metros that operate with an automatic driving system are usually continuously protected by an ATP system.

What metro benchmarks are there in Spain?

Spain has five conventional metro networks in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, and Palma de Mallorca. Alicante, Seville, Malaga, and Granada, on the other hand, have light rail networks.

The first metro network opened in Madrid on October 17, 1919, under King Alfonso XIII. It had the stations between today’s Cuatro Caminos and Sol on Line 1.In 1924, the first line of the Barcelona Metro was inaugurated, which allowed travelers to get from the Gràcia neighborhood to Colón. The Valencia metro opened in 1988, Bilbao’s in 1995, Alicante’s in 2003, and Palma de Mallorca’s metro in 2007.

Ferrovial participated in creating the network of metropolitan transport systems, not only in Spain but also in other countries of the world. The company carries out design, construction, and commissioning for new projects for metro stations and lines, always employing its principles of sustainability and energy efficiency, as well as visible improvements in safety, risk, the program, the environment, and cost.

How to use these subway systems

Ferrovial has taken part in construction and improvement projects on various metro systems around the world. Here’s basic information on taking them.


Madrid metro lines:

  1. Pinar de Chamartín – Valdecarros 
  2. Las Rosas – Cuatro Caminos 
  3. Villaverde Alto – Moncloa 
  4. Argüelles – Pinar de Chamartín 
  5. Alameda de Osuna – Casa de Campo
  6. Circular
  7. Hospital Henares – Pitis
  8. Nuevos Ministerios – Airport
  9. Paco de Lucía – Arganda del Rey
  10. Hospital Infanta Sofía – Puerta del Sur
  11. Plaza Elíptica – La Fortuna
  12. MetroSur
  13. Ópera – Príncipe Pío 

Madrid metro schedule:

Every day from 6:05 to 2:00. The last train leaves the end of each line at 1:30.

Madrid metro fares:

Purchasing tickets requires having a Public Transit Multi Card, which costs €2.50 and can be purchased at the ticket kiosks.

Single ticket: €1.50 (good for trips on the Metro, Light Rail, and urban or interurban bus)

10-trip ticket: €12.20 (good for trips by Metro, Light Rail, and urban or interurban bus)

Airport supplement: €3 (necessary to enter or leave the Airport T1-T2-T3 or Airport T4 stations)

There are monthly and annual passes, as well as tourist tickets; these prices vary according to the route and length.


London Underground lines:

  • Bakerloo
  • Central
  • Circle
  • District
  • Hammersmith & City
  • Jubilee
  • Metropolitan
  • Northern
  • Piccadilly
  • Victoria
  • Waterloo & City

London Underground schedule:

Monday-Saturday: 5:00 to midnight (departure time of the trains from the end of the line)

Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

London Underground fares:

The ticket fares depend on the route zones.

Single tickets:

Zones 1-3: £4.90 (€5.70)

Zones 1-5: £5.90 (€6.90)

Zones 1-6: £6 (€7)

The price of single tickets is high, so it’s recommended to use one of the transit card options.

Oyster card: it costs £5 (€5.80) and can be recharged with single tickets or day passes. The card can be returned at the points of purchase, where the full amount of the card’s cost plus the unused balance is refunded.

Travelcard: allows an unlimited number of rides during a specified time period. Their fares depend on the user’s age, the zone, and the time of use.

There are monthly and annual Travelcards, but they are exclusively for residents.


Porto metro lines:

  • Line A (blue): Estádio do Dragão – Senhor de Matosinhos.
  • Line B (red): Estádio do Dragão – Póvoa de Varzim.
  • Line C (green): Estádio do Dragão – ISMAI.
  • Line D (yellow): Hospital São Joã – Santo Ovideo.
  • Line E (purple): Estádio do Dragão – Airport.
  • Line F (orange): Fânzeres – Senhora da Hora.

Porto metro schedule:

Every day from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Porto metro fare:

A single ticket costs €1.20. You can purchase the Andante or Porto Card to take unlimited trips for a specified period of time.

Fun facts about the Metro

  • The first metro in the world was the London Underground (called the Metropolitan Railway); it opened in 1863, measuring six kilometers in length. 

The project was proposed by Charles Pearson in 1843. The English parliament authorized the proposal after 10 years of debate.

  • Currently, many subway systems operate without a driver – for instance, the Copenhagen Metro, the Rennes Metro, the London Docklands Light Railway, lines 1 and 14 of the Paris Metro, lines L9, L10, and L11 of the Barcelona Metro, and lines 3, 6, and 7 of the Santiago Metro.

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