Viajeros adquiriendo billetes en las primeras máquinas billeteras de la red de Metro en los años 70

The most interesting Metro: figures, dates and more

You have to read it to believe it! From its opening in 1919 to the present day, the histories of Madrid and its Metro have run parallel and one cannot be conceived without the other. The passing of the years and the expansion of the underground have left us with many anniversaries, figures and facts, but also interesting anecdotes and curiosities. Will you join us on this journey through time?

27/06/2022 - The Madrid Metro network currently has 294 kilometres and 302 stations, but, if we go back a century, its history began with a first line of only 4 kilometres and 8 stations and, yes, a great project ahead of it. It was 1919 and Madrid was opening a new underground connection between Sol and Cuatro Caminos, which fascinated some people and made others a little scared of going underground.

Inauguración por Alfonso XII de la primera línea de Metro de MAdrid en 1917

Line 2 was opened five years later, in 1924, running between Sol and Ventas. Metro was growing! By then it already had its first lift, installed in 1920 at the surface exit of Gran Vía, in the San Luis network.

Ascensor de la Red de San Luis en una imagen de los años 20

Also in the 1920s, specifically in 1925, the branch line opened between the stations of Ópera and Estación del Norte, known today as Príncipe Pio, and Metro took another step forward in its expansion.

The change of decade brought an important novelty, because in 1931, the Compañía Metropolitana Alfonso XIII was renamed Compañía Metropolitana de Madrid. Already under that name, during the Civil War, the underground remained open and served as a shelter. Not only that, but a new line was opened in the midst of the conflict. It was the first section of Line 3, between Sol and Embajadores, and it opened to the public in 1936.

Look at what Puerta del Sol was like back then:

Puerta del Sol en 1936 con un tranvía en primer plano

And it was precisely line 3 that was the first to be extended after the war, in 1941, between Sol and Argüelles.

Since then, Metro has continued to grow and modernise, including all the advances that each era has allowed, which have not been few.

We mentioned earlier that the first lift was installed shortly after the opening of the first Metro line, but the first escalators had to wait a little longer. No less than four decades!

The stations that enjoyed this new invention were Aluche and Plaza de España in 1961, but at that time neither of them were part of the Metro de Madrid network, but belonged to the Ferrocarril Suburbano de Carabanchel. So, to be precise, the first escalators that Metro had were the Portazgo escalators installed in 1962.

Metro de Madrid currently boasts 558 lifts and 1,712 escalators, making it one of the most accessible metro systems in the world, second only to the Shanghai Metro.

And so, between extensions and advances, we reached the 1970s, when Metro signed an agreement with the army whereby soldiers could take part in their "military service" as employees of the company and, on completion, opt to join the company as employees.

In the same year, the first ticket machines were installed. They wouldn't give change! So separate machines had to be installed for this purpose. And here's another overwhelming fact: there are currently 1,274 ticket vending machines distributed throughout Metro de Madrid stations. That’s something!

Máquinas billeteras en los años 70

Usuario utilizando una máquina de cambio en los años 70

Today, we all associate each Metro de Madrid line with a colour, but this was not always the case. In fact, this is a fairly recent development, because the current colour-coded line markings were only set in 1981.

Trains have also changed a lot since those first classic cars started running in 1919, improving in comfort, design and, of course, the incorporation of increasingly advanced technology. Today, there are almost 2,400 cars on the network.

And let's continue with the figures: Metro de Madrid currently serves almost 350 million passengers and employs over 7,000 people. Wow!

Here are some interesting numbers:

The fact is that the Madrid Metro network has become the skeleton of Madrid that has gone beyond the city limits, as it reaches no less than twelve towns. And it is not only inseparable from the life of Madrid as a means of transport, but it is also present in the culture, leisure and life of the region.

That is why we close this brief tour of some interesting facts about Metro with a cultural note, recalling a film shot entirely at Metro that won a Goya in 1993 for best short fiction film, "El columpio" directed by Álvaro Fernández Armero and starring Coque Malla and Ariadna Gil.

Lovely memories!