Transport in Spain

Transport in Spain is characterised by an extensive network of roads, railways (including the world's second longest high speed rail network), rapid transit, air routes, and ports. Its geographic location makes it an important link between Europe, Africa, and the New World. Major forms of transit generally radiate from the capital, Madrid, located in the centre of the country, to link with the capitals of the autonomous communities.

Spanish transit is marked by a high degree of integration between its long distance railway system and inner-city metro systems, although the historic use of broad gauge has limited integration with its neighbours. Spain is currently working to increase and improve linkage with the rail systems of France and Portugal, including high-speed rail between Madrid and Lisbon.[1]

Spain possesses a highly developed highway system, with both tolled and free motorways.

Air traffic is routed through several international and regional airports, the largest of which is Barajas International Airport in Madrid.

Rail transport and AVE transport

Spanish railways date from 1848. The total route length in 2017[2] was 14,781 km (8,791 km electrified)

  • Iberian gauge (1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in)): 11,333 km (6,538 km electrified at 3 kV DC)
  • Standard gauge (1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)): 2,571 km (all electrified at 25 kV AC)
  • Narrow gauge (1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)): 1,207 km (400 km electrified)
  • Narrow gauge (914 mm (3 ft)): 28 km (all electrified)

Most railways are operated by RENFE; narrow gauge lines are operated by FEVE and other carriers in individual autonomous communities. It is proposed to build or convert more standard gauge lines, including some dual gauging of broad gauge lines, especially where these lines link to adjacent countries.

A high-speed rail line (AVE) between Madrid and Seville was completed in 1992. In 2003, high-speed service was inaugurated on a new line from Madrid to Lleida and extended to Barcelona in 2008. The same year, lines from Madrid to Valladolid and from Córdoba to Málaga were inaugurated. In 2010, AVE line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia was inaugurated.[3][4]

Cities with metro/light rail systems

  • Andorra – no (Andorra has no railways)
  • France – yes/no – break-of-gauge (1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in))/(1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in))/(1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)) (new high-speed line without any break-of-gauge)
  • Portugal – yes, same gauge
  • Morocco – no – proposed undersea tunnel. break-of-gauge (1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in))/(1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in))
  • Gibraltar – no (Gibraltar has no railways)

Tunnel across the Strait of Gibraltar

In December 2003, Morocco and Spain agreed to explore the construction of an undersea rail tunnel across the Strait of Gibraltar, to connect their rail systems.[6]

The AVE is a mean of transport the world's fastest 300/360 km per h. AVE (The high velocity in Spain).

This Ave is in:

Madrid - Valencia Barcelona - Madrid Sevilla - Madrid Ciudad Real - Madrid Tarragona - Madrid Valladolid - Madrid Madrid - Toledo Madrid - Cordoba

+ Information AVE:

Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) is a service of high-speed rail in Spain operated by Renfe, the Spanish national railway company, at speeds of up to 310 km/h (193 mph).[1] The name is literally translated from Spanish "Alta Velocidad Españolas" (Spanish High Speed), but its initials are also a play on the word ave, meaning "bird". As of December 2011, the Spanish AVE system is the longest HSR network in Europe with 2,665 km (1,656 mi) and the second in the world, after China. AVE trains run on a network of dedicated high-speed rail track owned and managed by Adif. The first line was opened in 1992, connecting the cities of Madrid, Córdoba and Sevilla. Unlike the rest of the Spanish broad gauge network, the AVE uses standard gauge, permitting direct connections outside Spain. Although AVE trains are operated by Renfe, the Spanish state railway company, private companies may be allowed to operate trains in the future using other brands, in accordance with European Union legislation. Some TGV-derived trains do run on the broad-gauge network at slower speeds, and these are branded separately as Euromed. On the line from Madrid to Seville, the service guarantees arrival within five minutes of the advertised time, and offers a full refund if the train is delayed further, although only 0.16% of trains have been so. In this regard, the punctuality of the AVE is exceptional compared to other non-long-distance RENFE services. On other AVE lines, this punctuality promise is more lax (15 minutes on the Barcelona line). A possible reason for this is that AVE services slow down to 200 km/h for the Sierra Morena section of the journey, because of the tight curves, and 250 km/h for the Córdoba-Seville section, possibly on account of medium-speed services running on the line, meaning that they have an easy means of recovering lost time if held up earlier in the journey.

Road system

  • Total: 681,298 km (2008)
  • Expressways: 16,204 km (2012)

The first-class motorways in Spain are called autopistas and autovías. As of 2015, Spain had 12,311 km of roads designated as part of the European comprehensive TEN-T network of which 10,636 km are motorways.[7] Bridges accounted for 220 km (1.8%) of this network and tunnels for a further 100 km (0.8%). There are also many national roads.


There are 1,045 km of water ways, but they have minor economic importance.


  • Gas: 7,962 km
  • Oil: 622 km;
  • Refined products: 3,447 km (2006)

Ports and harbors

The most important port and harbours are Algeciras, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao others: Cádiz, Cartagena, Ceuta, Huelva, A Coruña, Las Palmas, Málaga, Melilla, Gijón, Palma de Mallorca, Saguntum, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Los Cristianos (Tenerife), Santander, Tarragona, Vigo, Motril, Almería, Seville, Castellón de la Plana, Alicante, Pasaia, Avilés, and Ferrol.

Merchant marine

  • Total: 169 ships (1000 GT or over) 1,902,839 GT/1,874,161 tonnes deadweight (DWT)
  • Ships by type (2006):
  • Bulk carrier: 9
  • Cargo: 13
  • Chemical tanker: 14
  • Container: 27
  • Liquefied gas: 9
  • Passenger: 1
  • Passenger/cargo: 49
  • Petroleum tanker: 15
  • Refrigerated cargo: 5
  • Roll on/roll off: 20
  • Specialized tanker: 2
  • Vehicle carrier: 5

Air transport

Domestic air transport is in fierce competition with high speed rail in Spain - for example the Madrid-Barcelona route was Europe's busiest air route prior to the opening of a high speed rail line in this corridor. Air traffic is also the main mode linking passengers on the Balearic and Canary Islands to the mainland

Airports – with paved runways

  • Total: 96 (2006 est.)
  • 10,000 ft (3,048 m) and over: 16
  • 8,000 to 9,999 ft (2,438 to 3,047 m): 10
  • 5,000 to 7,999 ft (1,524 to 2,437 m): 20
  • 3,000 to 4,999 ft (914 to 1,523 m): 24
  • under 3,000 ft (914 m): 26

Main airports are Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Málaga, Gran Canaria, Alicante and Tenerife South.

Airports – with unpaved runways

  • Total: 61 (2006 est.)
  • 5,000 to 7,999 ft (1,524 to 2,437 m): 2
  • 3,000 to 4,999 ft (914 to 1,523 m): 15
  • under 3,000 ft (914 m): 44

Airlines based in Spain


In 2009, there were 298 heliports.


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