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Spanish solution

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Spanish solution

Spanish solution: the principle
Eastbound track at Station Marienplatz, Munich S-Bahn
Looking from one train through another, with doors open on both sides, to a third train. At Barking in London, England eastbound Underground trains open their doors on both sides for cross-platform interchange with two main-line services, C2C and London Overground Barking - Gospel Oak, this photograph from inside one of the latter.
Westbound platforms 3 and 3a at Stratford station (with a London Underground Central line train arriving). Trains now open their doors on both sides at this platform.

The Spanish solution (also called Barcelona solution) has two railway platforms, one on each side of the line, to speed up boarding and alighting: passengers board from one side and alight to the other. If there are three platforms (one island platform and two side platforms) with two tracks, generally the center platform will be a shared exit platform, as there is no benefit in segregating arriving passengers. At most locations doors for exit open a few seconds before those for entry.

The principle was first used in 1895 at the (now closed) King William Street tube station in London, but came into wide use on (and takes its name from) the Barcelona Metro in the 1930s.

The solution was used in the United States in 1912 at Park Street Under on the MBTA's Red Line in Boston, and at Chambers Street on the New York City Subway in 1913, where the center platform is now closed.

On people movers at airports there are often dedicated platforms for boarding and alighting. This can have the additional advantage of preventing travellers heading in the wrong direction when alighting, and ensuring passenger segregation. The same principle is often used on ferries, monorails, and cable cars, fairground rides such as roller coasters, and in buildings such as theaters.

At a terminal station where trains are bi-directional (double ended) it is advantageous for the center platform to be for boarding and the side platforms to be for alighting. This permits an incoming train to enter on either track and remain in the station until it is ready to begin the next trip. Passengers boarding then do not have to know in advance which track the next train will depart from.

Spanish solution


on the São Paulo Metro is a recent example. Line 1 Blue (Linha 1 - Azul, Norte-Sul or North-South) uses this model at stations like Sé, a busy station due to Line 3 integration, and Line 3 - Red (Linha 3 - Vermelha, Leste-Oeste or East-West) uses this at Sé, Republic (Estação República), Itaquera, Barra Funda, and Luz.

In Hong Kong, the former KCRC (now part of MTR Corporation) reconstructed the platforms at the checkpoint terminus, Lo Wu, to a similar layout. When the train stops, the doors on the island (alighting) platform open and all passengers get off. Then the doors close and the doors on the side (boarding) platform open.

In France, the principle is applied at the Line B platforms at Jean Jaurès on the Toulouse Metro, where Lines A and B connect.

On the London Underground system, Loughton tube station was designed as an example, in this case to allow interconnection across the platforms with trains from beyond; though it is no longer operated on the principle.

Other examples


People's Republic of China
Hong Kong





Barcelona's Clot station was opened in 1951. Many stations in Line 1 look like this one.
United Kingdom

Stations where there are two platforms for one track, but passengers can board and alight from either side:

North America

The roughed-in centre platform at Toronto's Sheppard–Yonge subway station is intended for use as a Spanish solution when volumes increase and extra capacity is needed.
Boston's Park Street station, lower level. Only the center platform has an elevator for disability access.
United States

Other stations, mainly express stations on three-track lines, have a Spanish solution for the middle track, but trains often open the doors on only one side, depending on the direction of travel. Two terminal stations that retain a Spanish solution are the N R platforms at South Ferry - Whitehall Street, and Flushing – Main Street – the terminal for the 7 <7> trains, but the doors cannot open on both sides, due to constraints on newer rolling stocks.

Tracks 1 and 4 in SEPTA's Suburban Station in Philadelphia, towards Jefferson Station and beyond, contain what appears to be a Spanish solution, as those tracks share the (narrow) platforms which serve stub-end tracks 0 and 5 in addition to the wide platforms which serve through tracks 1-2 and 3-4. However, for logistical and safety reasons, this setup has seldom if ever been used; it is more of an artefact from when the platforms between tracks 1-2 and 3-4 were widened at the expense of two stub-end tracks to accommodate the Center City Commuter Connection which opened in 1984 (Market East, by comparison, has only two island platforms for its four tracks).


South America

Avenida de América on the Madrid Metro is a clear example.
Spanish solution in Brussels Rogier premetro station
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