ⓘ Metro Bilbao


Line 1 (Metro Bilbao)

Currently, Line 1 of Metro Bilbao starts on the station of Etxebarri and finishes in the station of Plentzia. Its route covers the municipality of Etxebarri, the city of Bilbao, the right bank of the Nervion river and Uribe Kosta. The line has 28 stations.


Line 2 (Metro Bilbao)

Line 2 of Metro Bilbao starts at Kabiezes and ends at Basauri. Its route covers the municipality of Basauri, Etxebarri, the city of Bilbao, and the left bank of the Nervion river. Currently, Line 2 has 25 stations.

Metro Bilbao

ⓘ Metro Bilbao

Metro Bilbao is a rapid transit system serving the city of Bilbao and the region of Greater Bilbao. Lines 1 and 2 have a "Y" shape, as they transit both banks of the Nervion river and then combine to form one line that ends in the south of Bilbao. Line 3 has a "V" shape connecting the municipality of Etxebarri with the Bilbao neighbourhood of Matiko; the corner of the "V" is Zazpikaleak/Casco Viejo station, where all three current lines meet. The network of Metro Bilbao is connected with Euskotren Tranbia, Bilboko Aldiriak, Euskotren Trena, Feve, the Renfe service and Bilbaos bus station Termibus. It uses a meter gauge.

As of 2017, the Metro operates on 49.16 kilometers 30.55 mi of route, with 48 stations 31 of them underground, and 17 on the surface with 80 accesses not counting elevators. It is the third largest Metro company in Spain by number of passengers carried 87.133.034 in 2013 behind the Madrid and Barcelona metro systems.

On 21 February 2007 the Basque Government announced the project for the construction of the third metro line, which in the future will be expanded to Bilbao Airport. Construction of the third line began in July 2008 and was inaugurated 8 April 2017. On 25 January 2008 the preliminary layout of lines four and five was published. At the same time, the University of the Basque Country requested the construction of "Line 6" in order to connect Leioa where the university is located and Getxo with Asua Valley where the airport is located going through the university campus.


1. Current network and connections


* The section between the stations of San Inazio and Etxebarri is the same for Lines 2 and 1 with 10.39 kilometres 6.46 mi and twelve common stations being shared.


1.1. Current network and connections Connections

  • Bolueta Station
  • Bizkaibus: Lines A2610, A3613, A3621, A3622, A3918, A3928 and A3929.
  • Euskotren Trena: L1 Bilbao-Donostia, L1d Durangaldea and L3 Urdaibai
  • Bilbobus: Line 30 only Sundays until 3:00pm
  • Euskotren Tranbia
  • Casco Viejo Station
  • Euskotren Trena: L4 Txorierri
  • Cercanias C1, C2 and C3
  • Bizkaibus: Lines A2314, A2322, A2324, A3115, A3122, A3136, A3137, A3144, A3151, A3152, A3336, A3337, A3514, A3515, A3911, A3912, A3917 and 3925
  • Euskotren Tranbia
  • RENFE: Long distance trains
  • FEVE: B-1 Bilbao-Concordia / Balmaseda, R-3 Bilbao-Concordia / Santander, R-3b Bilbao-Concordia / Carranza and T-1 Transcantabrico
  • Bilbobus: Lines 01, 03, 10, 26, 30, 40, 50, 56, 58, 62, 71, 72, 75, 77, 85, A1, A2, A5, G2, G3, G4, G5, G6, G7 and G8
  • Abando Station
  • Cercanias C1 and C2
  • San Mames Station
  • Termibus Bus terminal station
  • Euskotren Tranbia
  • San Inazio Station
  • Bilbobus: Lines 10, 13, 18 y 71
  • Metro Bilbao: Inter-connexion between Line 1 and Line 2

Besides this, most of the stations have connections with different bus lines. At the same time, Urbinaga Station was built with the intention of connecting lines C1 and C2 of Cercanias and Ansio Station with a bus terminal. However, these connection projects have not been finished as of 2011. Eventually the Urbinaga project was restarted in 2009. That future intermodal station will also take advantage of the future Leioa-Urbinaga Tram. Its construction was expected to start at the end of 2009.


2.1. History Precedents

The idea of building a metro system in the city of Bilbao is an old one. In the 1920s the citys council prepared a project to build a metro system in the neighbourhoods of Abando and San Francisco. Soon after, the economic crises and the Spanish Civil War put a definitive end to the project.

In 1971 the government of Biscay, the Bilbao City Council and the Commerce Bureau created a commission to evaluate the transportation needs of Greater Bilbao. In 1976, five years later, the Biscay Transport Consortium CTB, see Barik Card was created. In that same year two proposals were created to start a metro service in 1985, the first of them is almost identical to the current network.

A year later a project was created to build the metro, however lots of objections were raised against it and disagreements between different institutions put an end to it.

In 1985 the construction plans were altered and a new project was created. Finally in 1987 the Basque Government approved the plan to build and finance the Bilbao Metro.


2.2. History Construction

A metro system was deemed to be the best way to improve congestion problems in the evolving and regenerating city. The contract for the underground metro system in Bilbao was awarded to the architects Sir Norman Foster and partners in 1988 following an open competition.

The same year the first underground station was opened in Erandio, on the existing Bilbao-Plentzia railway. In 1989 construction began in the city centre, where the main Moyua square was closed to pedestrians until 1997. Construction was especially complicated in the neighbourhoods of Deusto and San Inazio, where the cut and cover tunnel excavation damaged some buildings, was very noisy, and caused severe traffic disruptions. This method of excavation contrasted with the tunnel-boring machines used elsewhere in the city.


2.3. History Line 1

The first part of line 1 opened on 11 November 1995, with 23 stations between Casco Viejo and Plentzia. The tracks outside Bilbao were previously part of Eusko Trenbideak / Ferrocarriles Vascos Euskotren Trena and earlier of FEVE.

By 5 July 1997 the total number of stations was 27 as Santutxu, Basarrate and Bolueta joined Gobela which had opened the previous year.


2.4. History Line 2

The first line, which operates north of the River Nervion, was later joined by a second line, which operates south of the river. The two lines split at San Inazio, from where the second runs to Santurtzi. The original five stations were opened on 13 April 2002. The furthest eastern point is now Etxebarri station, opened along with Sestao on 8 January 2005. Line 2 was enlarged with two new stations in Portugalete that were opened on 20 January 2007 Abatxolo and Portugalete. Two new stations joined the Metro system on 4 July 2009 in Santurtzi: Peñota and Santurtzi stations. In 2014, the station of Kabiezes was inaugurated.


2.5. History Line 3

Following the commencement of works in the middle of 2009, it was inaugurated on 8 April 2017. It cost 279 million euros, significantly more than the original 153 million euro budget. and was expected to transport 71.000 people according to Bilbao council. The third line has a length of 5.885 metres and has one station in Etxebarri: Kukullaga-Etxebarri, and six stations in Bilbao: Otxarkoaga, Txurdinaga, Zurbaranbarri, Zazpikaleak/Casco Viejo, Uribarri and Matiko.


3.1. Future Extensions to Line 1

A new station in the municipality of Getxo called "Ibarbengoa-Getxo" was expected to be open in 2010, but was delayed until early 2012, and then to 2015. It is also expected that the level crossings located in Maidagan and Urduliz will be buried.


3.2. Future Extensions to Line 2

It is not expected to expand the line further from Kabiezes, despite the requests of the neighbors of the Mining Zone and Ortuella, where the parking area of the Metro units will be located.


3.3. Future Line 3 expansion

In a second phase, the third line will be expanded to Bilbao Airport, using a tunnel of double rail and with a length of 1.875 metres under Mount Artxanda.


3.4. Future Line 4 project Under study

The preliminary layout of the future Line 4 Moyua/Rekalde was presented on 25 January 2008. The preliminary layout suggests that Moyua Station, which gives service to Line 1 and Line 2, will connect with Rekalde with two intermediate stations: Zabalburu which has a suburban rail station and Irala. There have been discussions about the ramifications of whether to connect with either Moyua Station or Bilbao Abando Station, this is due to the fact that Rekalde did not have a Metro connection. Line 3 was planned to connect Rekalde with the rest of the city, but the final plan moved the line in another direction.

The plan to add Rekalde to Line 3 was halted, and the route completely altered. This change was criticised, especially by people from Rekalde. In 2009 a new layout for a new Line 4 was considered; this new line would connect Rekalde with Moyua and the latter station with Deusto, taking advantage of the rail tracks of Euskotren Trena, that are in that zone. Matiko Station would be connected too. The line would then have the Plaza Euskadi Station "Euskadi Square Station" after Moyua and then cross the river to Deusto Station and a new station in the University of Deusto campus Unibersitatea, to then reach Matiko Line 3.


3.5. Future Line 5 project Under study

Also on 25 January 2008 the preliminary layout for Line 5 Etxebarri/Usansolo was presented. This new line would connect Etxebarri with Galdakao. At first it was only planned for the line to have five stations, however the line is still on studies and may suffer major modifications. Later, one more station was added, on the Bengoetxe neighbourhood on Galdakao. The line was expected to begin constructed in 2012 and was expected to be finished in 2016.

The stations on the preliminary layout are Etxebarri which gives service to Line 2 and Line 1, Aperribai, Bengoetxe, Galdakao, Galdakaos Hospital, and Usansolo, where the metro will be connected with lines 1, 1d and 3 from Euskotren Trena, which operate in that station.

Once the line is finished, there are plans for the line to become an extension of Line 2 from Etxebarri Station, while Line 1 would reach the center of Basauri.


4.1. Operation Zones

The Metro Bilbao network is divided into the following fare zones:

  • Zone 2 Upper Nervion, Etxebarri and Ariz main line for L1 and L2.
  • Zone 2B Left Bank of the river, from Gurutzeta/Cruces Line 2 to Kabiezes Line 2, inclusive.
  • Zone 2A Right Bank of the river, from Lutxana Line 1 to Berango Line 1, inclusive.
  • Zone 1 Bilbao, from Bolueta main line for L1 and L2 to San Inazio main line for L1 and L2, inclusive.
  • Zone 3 Uribe Kosta, from Larrabasterra Line 1 to Plentzia Line 1, inclusive.

4.2. Operation Cards

Metro Bilbao offers special cards that are personal and cannot be transferred, with a time limit of 5 years since the date of issue. They can be obtained at any of the customer service offices of Metro Bilbao.

  • Carnet Hirukotrans Card: For use with the Hirukotrans ticket.
  • Carnet Gizatrans Card: For use with Gizatrans ticket.
  • Carnet Kidea Socio Kidea Member Card: For use with monthly tickets and Super 50 tickets.
  • Carnet Gizatrans para familia numerosa Gizatrans card for large families: For use with Gizatrans ticket for large families.
  • Carnet Gaztea Joven Youth Gaztea Card: For use with the youth ticket, monthly ticket and Super 50 tickets.

4.3. Operation Tickets and fares

The ticket system is closed, which means that validation of the ticket is required when entering the station and again when exiting.

There are different types of tickets, each of which has a different fare updated as 2009:


4.4. Operation Combined tickets

  • Combined ticket with Renfe Uria: Valid for 10 trips. Can be transferred. Can be obtained in Abando Station and San Mames Station. The Uria ticket can be used in the following stations: Metro Bilbao: Zone A. Cercanias: Bilbao-Abando, Zabalburu Station, Ametzola Station, Autonomia Station, San Mames Station, Olabeaga Station, Zorrotza Station, Miribilla Station and La Peña Station. The change between Renfe and Metro should be of 20 minutes or less. Fare: 9.65€.
  • Combined ticket with Euskotren Trena. Valid for 10 trips, monthly or annual. Valid in the stations of Casco Viejo and Bolueta. The change between Euskotren Trena and Metro should be of 15 minutes or less.

4.5. Operation Barik cards

  • Creditrans. Valid for as many trips as the money charge pre-paid of the card supports. Can be transferred and used several times in the same trip. Creditrans is a pre-paid card that can be used in Metro Bilbao, Euskotren Trena, EuskoTran, FEVE, Bilbobus, Bizkaibus, Artxanda Funicular, Vizcaya Bridge, Lujuas Bus, Etxebarri Bus and Sopelbus. Fares: 1 Zone: 0.69€; 2 Zones: 0.83€; 3 Zones: 0.93€. Creditrans is the most popular and most used ticket system on Metro Bilbao and some other transportation systems.
  • Hirukotrans big families. Personal and cannot be transferred. To obtain one is needed to have a Hirukotrans Card. Only available for big families.
  • Gizatrans only valid for people older than 65 or some kind of physical disadvantage. Personal and cannot be transferred. It can be used in the same places as Creditrans with the exceptions of Sopelbus, FEVE and Vizcaya Bridge. Price of a single Gizatrans card: 3€. Fares for Metro Bilbao: 0.27€ valid in all zones.

Creditrans, Gizatrans and Hirukotrans will no longer be issued after 31 March 2013 as they have been replaced by the Barik electronic card. Any old Creditrans with a credit on them can be used until the end of 2013.


4.6. Operation Schedules and frequencies

The Metro network works from 6:00 am until 11:00 pm from Monday to Thursday, and until 2:00 am on Friday and days before festive days. There is an all night service from Saturday to Sunday, with trains each 15 minutes on the main lines and with a 30-minute frequency on the other lines. During June, July, August and September, the no-interruptions night service also works on Fridays. During "Bilbaos Great Week", there are special services every night.

During weekdays, there is a frequency of 2.5 minutes on Zone A, 5 minutes on Zone B.0, B.1 y B.2 and 18 minutes on Zone C during most of the day.


4.7. Operation Ridership

In 2007 Metro Bilbao was used by almost 86 million people, being the third most used metro in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. Since it serves directly about 680.000 people, each citizen travels about 126 times a year. Ridership increases steadily every year, there are some dramatic increases in 1998 and 2002 due to enlargement of the network, ridership is expected to reach 100 million people per year once the network is completed.


4.8. Operation Busiest stations in 2007

  • San Mames – 5.769.908 passengers
  • Abando – 6.786.616 passengers
  • Indautxu – 6.195.720 passengers
  • Moyua – 6.342.798 passengers
  • Casco Viejo – 6.554.028 passengers

5. Design

Access to the metro is provided by fosteritos, glass structures affectionately named after the architect who designed them, Norman Foster. These modern-looking tunnels stand attractive alongside the modern and innovative interior of the stations.

Large caverns of a 160m 2 cross section were dug for stations, creating large open spaces, as opposed to the traditional sets of linked tunnels. For example, the ticket line is in the same space as the trains, for this purpose steel structures called mezzanines have been built over the tracks. Trains are fully accessible by lifts and escalators. Materials such as steel and concrete have been used throughout.

Sarriko station won the 1998 Brunel Award for Railway Design. It is noticeably different from the rest of the stations in the network: in place of the standard fosterito, a vast glazed atrium pours natural light into the entire station, and the long, unbroken escalator ride to the ticket hall from street level gives a dramatic sense of character to the station.

Away from the main structures, the design company Akaba created the seating systems for the Metro, which subsequently won the Spanish National Industrial Design Prize from the Ministry of Science and Technology in November 2000. A distinctive signage system was created by Otl Aicher, which are responsible for the eye-catching masts bearing the Metro logo. The principal colours used are of white lettering on a red background for key information and black lettering for secondary details.


6. Rolling stock

The Metro Bilbao uses train types of the series UT-500, UT-550 and UT-600, built by CAF. The company uses 24 trains of the first series, 13 of the second and 9 of the third. All vehicles are maintained and parked in Sopelana and Ariz.

The first sixteen vehicles, which carry the numbers UT 501 to 516, were delivered by CAF and ABB in November 1995. Inside each car 2+2 seats are arranged respectively vis-à-vis in the colors of the Corporate design – red and grey. A set of four cars is 72.12-metre 236.6 ft long, 3.85-metre 12.6 ft high and 2.80-metre 9.2 ft wide. Thats specially wide for a train that uses narrow gauge, for example vehicles of the large profile Berlin U-Bahn are only 2.65-metre 8.7 ft wide, and they use the normal gauge of 1.435 mm 4 ft 8 1 ⁄ 2 in.

The metro, like the commuter railroads in the region, is electrified at 1500 volts OHLE. Each train has sixteen 180 kilowatt motors; together that yields 2880 kilowatts per train unit. The maximum speed is 80 kilometers per hour. A train can carry 712 people, with 144 seated and 568 standing based upon six passengers standing per square meter.

The number of trains was increased after a renewed order in 1996, to a total of 24 trains with the numbers UT 517 until 524. For the newly constructed line 2, thirteen new trains were ordered from CAF and Adtranz now parent company of ABB. These new series UT-550 trains were delivered in October 2001. This series offers improvements in energy efficiency and to the air-conditioning systems. These trains are able to climb the deep line 2 tunnel under the river.

Since 1998 automatic train protection, and automatic train operation are used. The latter implies that the train drivers must press solely a button, and the remainder of the train operation is done through the computer. This is to be seen as an initial stage for an entirely computer-controlled system.

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