Taking an AVE train at Madrid Atocha after arriving on the Cercanias
Setting off from somewhere on the Madrid Cercanias network and want to connect to a long-haul or AVE train at Madrid Atocha? This article walks you through the connection from Cercanias to AVE at the train station.
If you’re doing the reverse and arriving on the AVE into Atocha but want to take the Cercanias onwards, here are a couple of other guides we’ve done:
- Arriving on the AVE train to Madrid Atocha
- Connecting from the AVE to Madrid Airport on the Cercanias
First, do you need to buy a Cercanias ticket to get to Madrid Atocha?
As you’re planning to catch an AVE train, it’s worth noting that AVE and other long-distance trains from Madrid Atocha include a free Cercanias connection. This means that you can use your AVE train ticket to collect a free Cercanias ticket. To find out how, see our post on Free Cercanias connections.
Arriving on the Cercanias at Madrid Atocha
All the Cercanias trains at Madrid Atocha arrive into the same huge underground station. So this is where you’ll arrive at the station. It’s really well designed because you can quickly connect between platforms and even see the trains arriving and departing from the other platforms.
Take the escalators up to Salida and out of the Cercanias area
After leaving the platform, take the escalators up and follow the signs to Salida (Exit). You’ll end up at the electronic gates where you’ll need to use your Cercanias ticket. Remember that these tickets have magnetic stripes, which are very sensitive to losing the data on them. So do make sure you keep them well away from your phone, charger etc. You can see more on this in our post on Cercanias tickets. If your ticket doesn’t work, it’s most likely that it’s got too close to something electronic. The gate will have the message ‘Billete Defectuoso’, which means defective ticket. And if this is the case, there is a glass Renfe ticket desk in the centre of the gates. Go there with your ticket and a member of staff will be able to let you out.
You are now on the bottom level of Madrid Atocha. Since you’re connecting to an AVE train you’ll need to check the status on the screens in the departures area. These are easy to spot.
Train departures: Planta Baja or Planta Primera?
The AVE & long-haul services depart from two different floors: Planta Baja and Planta Primera. On the departures board, check which floor your train leaves from (it’s under the column for Observaciones). Despite there being two floors, really, all the trains depart from the same tracks. What’s happening is that Planta Primera (First-Floor) passengers clear security upstairs before coming down onto the platforms via an escalator. Planta Baja (Ground Floor) departures clear security and then walk out, at boarding time, onto the platforms.
Planta Baja Departures
When you’ve come through the automated gates, turn left and walk the left-most wall of the Cercanias area before heading into the station. Keep left and follow the signs to “Salidas Planta Baja” which is about 200 metres away on the left. You’ll enter a shopping mall and the entrance to departures is on the left.
Planta Primera Departures
There are escalators almost directly in front of the Cercanias exit gates. Go up these and bear left. You’ll see Salidas Primera Planta ahead of you to the left of the escalators.
Got some time to kill before your AVE train?
If you just want some peace and quiet, check out the Embarcadero area of the station. It’s the historic predecessor to the current station. And it now houses a tropical garden (complete with terrapins!) and some excellent options for chilling, away from the hubris of the station.
Enjoy your time here.