This fascinating article, Las Estaciones Fantasma (The Ghost Stations), tells the story of the abandoned metro stations in Barcelona. Courtesy of Ling Magazine.
Stations in the Shadows
Fifty metres underground is Barcelona’s shadow side, hidden infrastructure that thousands of people pass each day without noticing. Phantom metro stations, once planned for the city and now forgotten only live on as names: Gaudí station, Banco, Correos… and another nine that reflect the civil engineering history of Barcelona, but with a touch of mystery.
The story begins in 1924, when the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) rail network was built in the city. At the time, only a single route, known as the Gran Metro, was put into use. This stretch went from Lesseps to Plaza de Cataluña and now forms part of Line 3. Over time, as the city grew, other branches were added. One runs down to San Fernando on La Rambla, past Ferran and Correos streets, on which there were once two stations that are now abandoned. Along the 123 kilometres of underground track in Barcelona there are a total of 12 stations that lie unused because of new track, changes in the network, or perhaps because they have never been completed. They have now disappeared from the transport maps.
Today, Ferran is opposite McDonalds; it was decided that the stop was unsuitable for modernisation in the 1960s, and closed for good. Gaudí is one of the most famous ghost stations. The lower level is empty all year round, until it comes to Christmas, when its platforms are illuminated. Correos can be glimpsed through an opening in Plaça d’Antonio López. Travessera, in Gràcia, never entered into service.
Some, like Banco station, located under Plaça Antoni Maura on Via Laietana, have attracted a number of legends. The station was constructed even before the track, but was never used. It is said that there was a corridor connecting the station with the Banco de España building on the site through which employees carried large sums of money. TMB felt the need to contradict this popular belief a few years ago in a ext published in its magazine Hora Punta with an article by the historian Albert González. The station is now used for storage.
In the case of the Correos station, which was built beneath the post office, it was used by passengers and also the postal service for fast transport of letters and packets. It was closed with the construction of Barceloneta in 1972.
On the Barcelona metro, most of these stops pass unnoticed by the millions of people who use the service each year, and Gaudí station is one of the few that are visible. Changes in the routes of lines 2 and 5 of the metro meant that this station, near Sagrada Familia, was put out of service. Some of the few people who have alighted at this station say they have seen people (ghosts, like the station itself) waiting for a train that no longer stops there. Today part of the upper level of the station is used as a centre for retired TMB workers. If you travel through the station, both platforms are clearly visible from the train.
In 2007 the construction of the Ernest Lluch station was begun. This unfinished project will one day connect two of the longest stretches of the Barcelona metro, but today work is at a standstill, and the station is waiting to be born.
Barcelona Metro is Spain’s second largest, with 165 stations. In less than a century it has changed the city, opening some parts up, linking others and changing still more. It too, has its ghosts.
“Las Estaciones Fantasma” by Alejandra Sánchez Inzunza was published in the August 2014 edition of Ling Magazine and reproduced here in its entirety with the kind permission of the author.