This guide to Madrid Chamartin station explains what to look out for when using the station to arrive and depart in Madrid by train.
At busy times Madrid Chamartin can be a somewhat chaotic station from which to take a train.
Though it’s theoretically simple station to use, as most of the facilities at the station and the access to the trains, is all housed within one main terminal building.
However, the middle of the concourse in the terminal building now houses food/drink counters and shops, plus the elevators that connect the concourse to the trains are also scattered across the area.
Therefore the sight-lines across the large space are compromised – hence it's a confusing space to navigate.
Also at busy times the concourse struggles to cope with the crowds waiting for and queueing for the long distance ‘larga distancia’ trains.
Long queues inevitably build up for the ticket checks that are now carried out at the entrances to the vias (tracks/platforms) that the AVE and Alvia trains depart from – and Charmatin wasn’t designed for this scenario.
Four Things Worth Knowing About Madrid Chamartin rail station:
1: One important facility which isn’t housed in the main concourse at Chamartin is the Consignia (left luggage) office.
It’s housed in a separate building across the street.
Use the exit from the main concourse which is opposite vias 16 and 17.
2: Chamartin station is located particularly far from Madrid city centre.
It's around 2km north of the heart of Madrid - the Puerta del Sol city square.
So taking a Cercanias or Metro train to/from Madrid Chamartin can be a big money saver compared to taking taxis.
3: Madrid Chamartin is the station you usually need to head to if you will heading north from the Spanish capital by train.
Though some of the Altaria and non-high speed trains to destinations south of Madrid commence their journeys at Chamartin before calling at Atocha.
Also some Alvia train services between north Spain and south-east Spain call at Chamartin before going on to call at Atocha.
So unless you happen to be commencing a journey in the area around Chamartin, you'll have a quicker end-to-end journey if you head to Atocha to join these trains.
Hence the information on this Chamartin station guide doesn't include these trains.
4: When looking at the Madrid metro map ‘Pinar-Charmatin’ station is not the metro stop at Chamartin train station.
Instead you’re looking for the ‘Chamartin’ stop to the left of it – the white circle served by line 1 and line 10.
When heading to Chamartin from central Madrid and Atocha station by the local Cercanias trains, try to board at the rear of the trains – the exits up to the concourse at Chamartin is behind the trains.
On the Cercannias platforms/tracks (vias) at Chamartin, there are escalators up to the concourse, which is where the exits and all other trains can be accessed from.
Behind the escalators are somewhat hidden lifts/elevators that can also take you up to the concourse.
If you will be connecting into an Avant, AVE or Alvia train heading north from Chamartin, when you reach the concourse turn to the left – these trains depart from the opposite half of the concourse.
In the middle of the concourse, if you face towards the trains, you will see the main departure screen, but other departure screens are scattered around the concourse.
Arriving by Metro at Chamartin station:
If you will be arriving by Metro and connecting to other trains, the exit from the metro is on the very far side of the concourse
Once you’re on the concourse simply walk ahead of you - the area of the station that the Avant, AVE or Alvia trains depart from is at the opposite end of the concourse.
The main departure screen at Chamartin station is located in the middle of the concourse above the entrance to the ticket office between vias (platforms/tracks) 8 – 10.
One of the few seating areas, in which you can wait for the specific via (platform/track) that you’re train will be leaving from to be confirmed, is in front of this departure screen.
However, the Avant, AVE and Alvia trains depart from vias (platforms/tracks) 15-21 at the far end of the concourse - over to the right as you face this departure screen.
There are smaller salidas (departure) screens at that end of the concourse.
Keep an eye on the ‘Salidas’ departure screens and wait for the via (platform/track number) to be confirmed –as it won’t be announced.
The trains depart from a lower level, so the main access to the trains is by using an escalator.
Have your ticket(s) in your hand as tickets are inspected at the top of the escalator, then between the bottom of the escalator and the trains is a luggage screening area – where tickets are also checked for a second time
As queues inevitably build up for the luggage screening. the escalator can be switched so that it isn’t moving, turning it into a staircase; therefore awkward to manage if you have luggage.
The luggage screening has been introduced since Charmatin was built, so the station wasn’t designed for it.
As tickets are inspected at the top of the escalator, the lifts/elevators down to the vias (which will be behind you in the middle of the concourse), can only be used by travellers requiring mobility assistance.
If you’re thinking, ‘this all sounds a tad chaotic’, then you’re right
So for a stress-free departure aim to be at Chamartin station a minimum of 20 mins before your train is due to leave, particularly if you will be taking an AVE or Alvia train.
It's best to already be at the station when the via (platform/track) details of your train are confirmed.
The exits from the via (platform/track) will be beyond the front of the trains.
There are escalators up to the concourse, which is where the exits and all other trains can be accessed from.
Behind the escalators are somewhat hidden lifts/elevators that can also take you up to the concourse, but when were last at Chamartin they were only available to travellers requiring mobility assistance.
Chamartin is located to the north of Madrid city centre, it’s 2km away from the Puerta De Sol square in the heart of the city
If you will be heading to central Madrid, the best public transport option is usually to take a Cercanias train – faster than the Metro, though they serve fewer stations and locations.
Once you have ascended up into the concourse had over to the right to access the Cercanias trains – and the metro.
You will need to buy a ticket for the Cercanias trains from the red ticket machines.
The ticket machines have an English translation option - but the names of the tickets remain in Spanish - you will need to purchase an 'Adult Ina' ticket.
All Cercanias trains heading to the city centre call at Nuevos Ministerios (in the main shopping area) and Atocha stations.
Trains on lines C3 and C4 call at Sol station, while those on lines C1, C2, C7, C8 and C10 call at Recoletos.
At Charmartin the line C3 and C4 trains depart from vias (platforms/tracks) 2 and 3.
The trains on lines C1, C2, C7, C8 and C10 depart from vias (platforms/tracks) 8 and 9.
The departure details of the Cercanias trains tend to be confirmed only a few mins before departure.
So if you’re heading to Nuevos Ministerios or Atocha, the easiest option is to head to vias (platforms/tracks) 8 and 9 – and then take the first train to arrive at via 8 OR 9.
Cercanias trains on line C1 and C10 connect Chamartin station to Barajas airport in 15 mins.
These trains will also have called at Atocha, as well as at Nuevos Ministerios and Recoletos stations in the city centre, so you don’t have to head for Chamartin in order to take the train to the airport.
These lines C1 and C10 trains heading to the Aeropuerto – T4 station will USUALLY depart from via (platform/track) 11 at Charmatin – so wait by the entrance to via 11 for the departure details to be confirmed.
Note that not all of the Cercanias trains, that depart from via 11 will be line C-1 and C-10 trains heading to the Aeropuerto - so check the departure indicators and info on the trains.
There are 4 x trains per hour during the day, but there can be gaps of up to 20 mins between departures
These line C1 and C10 trains call at a station that’s directly linked to Terminal 4 (the main terminal) of Barajas Airport
If your flight is departing from Terminals 1 or 2 – the best option is take the Cercanias train to T4 and then transfer to the metro for a two station hop on to its T1/T2 station.
This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.