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Cercanías is a commuter train service that travels to the outskirts of Madrid, it covers a lot of suburban Madrid municipalities -Alcorcón, Leganés, Getafe, Pinto, Vallecas, Cantoblanco, etc- and beyond -El Escorial, Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares, Guadalajara or the mountains of Madrid-. It is run by the state company RENFE, in fact almost all trains in Spain are run by them.
Cercanías stations are underground near the city center but above ground further out. They can be recognised by the rotated white 'C' on red as shown here in the icon below. There are 30 cercanías stations in metropolitan Madrid. The main cercanías stations in the center are: Atocha, Chamartín, Príncipe Pío, Nuevos Ministerios, Mendez Alvaro, Embajadores, Pirámides. All of these are connected to the metro network, the so called intercambiadores or transport hubs, some of them really huge.
The trains are comfortable and punctual. They are not too crowded except at rush hours, heated in winter and air-conditoned in summer. Timetables vary in the different lines, but most start at 5.30 and end at 23.30. At weekends schedules change. There are single tickets, monthly ones and 10 journey tickets.

You can have a look at the lines and the towns it covers in our cercanias trains map.

To see timetables, fares, stations, etc. see the site of:
RENFE CERCANÍAS (Greater Madrid railway) or
Madrid Transport Consortium where you also have a lot of information on Cercanías trains: suggestions on the best paths to take to all Madrid municipalities and to commute between them, both by train and by bus (there is an English version)

if you are planning to visit Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Chinchón or Ciudad Real, you'll have to take the Regional or media distancia trains:

Price varies by distance and also depending on the type of train you take. Many lines run now high speed trains which are more expensive.

RENFE Information: 902 24 02 02, You can use the telephone assistance of the railway company and take your chances that the person on the other side speaks English or refer to the following pages where you can also buy your regional tickets:

RENFE Info e-mail:

cercanias train madrid
Commuter train Madrid