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Medellín Metro station
[Photo: HK4ECG]


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Medellín: Rail Rapid Transit (Metro) Overview

Light Rail Now Project Team · August 2009

At present the only rail transit system serving any Colombian city, Medellín's Metro (rail rapid transit) currently consists of 28.8 km (17.9 miles) of route on two lines crossing the Medellín metropolitan area from north to south (Line A) and from east of the city center to the west (Line B). The system has a total of 25 stations – 19 on Line A and 6 on Line B (with one for interconnection between the two lines) In addition, two aerial cableways, designated Lines J and K, feed the Metro.

In the map below, Line A is shown in dark blue, and Line B is shown in ochre/orange. The connecting cableways are shown in yellow and green.
[Map: Love Medellín]


Medellín's Metro was completed in 1996 after sixteen years of planning and construction by Colombian, German, and Spanish companies at a cost of US$1.9 billion. Construction of the Metro commenced In 1984, as a municipal project, and 11 years later, on 30 November 1995, the Metro began its first operation on an elevated section of Line A between Poblado and Niquia stations. Full operation began in 1996.

According to Wikipedia (25 August 2009), daily ridership totaled 400,000 as of 2007. Trains run daily from 05:00 to 23:00, arriving at stations every three minutes during peak periods, and every 10 minutes otherwise. Several trains also operate during morning and evening rush hours directly from Niquía to San Javier via a connecting track linking the Caribe station on Line A and the Suramericana station on Line B.

Medellín's Metro serves approximately 150,000 residents of communes (neighborhoods) 1 and 2, and indirectly 350,000 residents of the northeastern area where many workingclass people live.

Metro Medellín Metro stations are reported to be sparkling clean, with trains running on time, and system is a source of pride of city's residents.
[Photo: HK4ECG]

The Medellín Traveler website emphasizes that "the trains always run on time."

The cars are roomy, featuring huge windows that provide excellent views of the city. The trains quietly move next to rooftops and low buildings, slithering through residential and commercial neighborhoods The cliche that "you can eat off the floor" is not too strong for the platforms at the train stations. There's no graffiti, no trash, no sign of the vandalism or neglect you'd expect to find in a mass transit system of a large city.

In addition, recounts Medellín Traveler, the Metro "has also created many public and cultural spaces along its lines: squares, restaurants, parks, recreational places, cultural areas, business sites, giving a new vision to the second largest Colombian city."

The website also provides some descriptive details of the two Metro lines:

Line A is 23.2 km [14.4 miles] and runs along the Aburrá Valley from Bello in the north to Itagüí in the south. 7 of the 19 stations are located on [elevated] tracks through the city centre. [...] Platform length on this line is 142 m [469 ft] although currently only 3-car-trains are used to increase frequencies. A trip on the entire line takes 36 minutes. Line B runs 5.6 km [3.5 miles] through the city from west to east connecting with line A at San Antonio right in the city center. Platform length is 72 m [238 ft]. All but one of the seven stations are situated on elevated tracks. A along the entire line takes 11 minutes.

According to the Wikipedia article, soon after the inauguration of the Metro,

the population welcomed the new service and the social and cultural impact was important. The Metro of Medellín became soon a symbol of the city (it was the first, and still only, rail-based Metro system in Colombia) and an encouragement to tourism and new spaces for a city of business. There were visitors first from other regions and cities of Colombia and after from abroad.

In addition, the Metro has pulled the disparate neighborhoods of the city closer together:

The concept of time has been altered also in the city: Before a worker from Bello spent two hours by bus going to Envigado. With the Metro, the distance among those two cities became just 30 minutes.

Information for this Fact Page has been adapted from narratives in the following sources:

Medellín Travel Guide

Medellín Traveler


Light Rail Now! website
Updated 2009/08/27

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