Friday, 4 January 2013


I used to live in Barcelona from 1989 to 2001, so I know its metro and other urban rail systems pretty well from everyday experience, which sometimes makes it more difficult to describe one's overall impression of the system. Since I moved to Berlin in 2001, I have been back in Barcelona regularly almost every year, so in this blog I will just describe my impressions on recent developments.


Although already in service since July 2010, I only got a chance to see the three new stations on L5 on my December 2012 visit. This extension was delayed by a couple of years due to a severe accident during construction in the Carmel area, where some houses collapsed and left a crater in the hilly area. All three stations are extremely deep for Barcelona standards, mostly due to the hilly terrain the line runs through. At El Carmel and most notably at El Coll-La Teixonera, the various entrances are rather difficult to find if you are not too familiar with the area. Long pedestrian tunnels lead into the mountain to a vestibule above the station proper. At the terminus Vall d'Hebron, next to one of Barcelona's largest hospital complexes, the line remains rather deep, probably because between the last two stations, to remain underground, the line actually passes beneath a valley, the name-giving Hebron Valley. So to change from L5 to L3, there are endless flights of escalators, too, and taking the lifts may be much faster.

Another new underground station I visited for the first time was ADIF's Sagrera-Meridiana Cercanías/Rodalies station. Located between metro lines L1 and L5, this has created a major hub with a large mezzanine to change from one line to the other, whereas previously there was only a narrow and always packed corridor to interchange between L1 and L5. The ADIF Cercanías station is rather plain, though, but then most other Rodalies stations in Barcelona are not too pleasant either. The current terminus for L9/L10 is located at the northern end of the station cluster, so people from L1 or Rodalies actually have to walk via the L5 platform. Both on L1 and L5, the former so-called "Spanish" 3-platform solution had been rebuilt into a normal island platform. Some 3-platform stations remain still on L1, though.

Many other stations have been refurbished in recent years, and in most cases in a much more friendly way with enamelled panelling and shiny granite floors rather than the cheap panelling used in the 1990s in stations like Urquinaona or Fontana. On the FGC network, Gràcia station is still undergoing expansion. It used to have rather narrow platforms, so the entire station box was widened on the eastern side so that the outbound island platform could be widened, too. Currently access in the outbound direction is via a temporary (?) entrance on the south side. 

The sad story in Barcelona is of course the middle part of L9/L10 which is currently mothballed and waiting for better times. Instead, the southern legs to the Airport (L9) and Zona Franca (L10) ought to be completed in the next years.



Barcelona at UrbanRail.Net

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