Madrid’s first railway turns 170 years old

ABC Travel

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On February 9, 1851, it was put into service the first Madrid railway, which linked the capital with Getafe, Pinto, Valdemoro, Ciempozuelos, Seseña and Aranjuez, just three years after the opening to traffic of the first line on peninsular soil, between Barcelona and Mataró. Now, therefore, 170 years have passed since that historic milestone. The section to Aranjuez was the first link in a railway line that in 1858 reached the Mediterranean port of Alicante: the first radial line completed in Spain.

The opening it was an event, with the assistance of the royal family, the Government, the Courts, provincial and local authorities … To transfer all the guests, several round trips were made on various trains (at least seven locomotives were used) between the Atocha pier and the primitive Aranjuez station, located opposite the Royal Palace. The guests were able to verify that in an hour and a half they could travel the nearly 50 kilometers that were between the two royal residences and that when the travelers descended they arrived safe and sound without fading and without somatic alterations caused by the speed of the convoy, thus burying the theses that were spread everywhere by the skeptics of the use of this new means of transport.

According to the chronicles of the time, thousands of Madrilenians took to the streets from the first hour to browse and up to 300,000 people in total came to participate in some way in the party, distributed throughout all the towns through which the line passed. Like the queen Isabel II She was very fond of salon music, the teacher Hipólito Gondois composed for the occasion a suite for piano entitled «From Madrid to Aranjuez», a collection of polkas, mazurkas, chotis and galop, a lively country dance, introduced in the late 1820s in Parisian society.

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This anniversary will give rise to a program of activities promoted by the Foundation of the Spanish Railways, the Railway Museum of Madrid and the town councils of the area that will include educational workshops, exhibitions on the railway, informative actions and even (if the context of the pandemic does not prevent it) the recreation by train of that first trip from Madrid-Aranjuez .

The line was born from a petition presented to the State Administration in 1830 by various illustrious figures; They proposed the construction of an iron road from Madrid to Aranjuez that would promote the development of the second, would join the Court with the Royal Palace of Aranjuez and, in April or May – the petition indicated – “it would bring together the people of Madrid who, leaving home at midmorning, would eat in Aranjuez to return to the Prado in the afternoon, the same as is done today with Vista Alegre.”

After overcoming different difficulties, on February 9, 1851 the almost 49 kilometers of the railway line that since then joins the two cities was put into service and also meant the opening of Madrid to the south and the east of the peninsula.

Currently the railway line between Madrid and Aranjuez is integrated into line C-3 of the Madrid Cercanías network. It has also circulated since 1984, in spring and autumn, the Strawberry Train, a historic train operated by Renfe and managed by the Spanish Railways Foundation through the Railway Museum, with the collaboration of the Community of Madrid and the Aranjuez City Council. A train that takes its name from those that gave way to Madrid to the delicious products of the orchard of Aranjuez through the line that today turns 170 years old.

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