Atocha: travelling at high speed

Hi-speed draws a new map and brings a new way to travel: Autogrill offers a new opportunity of living the railway stations

Madrid by the sea, nearly. Ok, so you won’t feel the Mediterranean breeze, or the waves in Puerta del Sol, but you will be aware of the change at Atocha station. From here, AVE trains take you to Valencia in just over two hours, 350 kilometres, an hour and a half’s journey – incredible! Hi-speed has changed distances and sensations, nothing is as it was, since Madrid moved nearer the sea, my journeys have other thoughts, starting with the station.

Carmen Martín, lawyer

As a girl, a young Andalusian lawyer hired by the ministry, the journey to Madrid was a real trek. Today, it is often the start of the weekend. Then, I had to figure in time wasted as I filled my suitcase with clothes and books; now I have more room in my luggage.
On Friday, I come out of work and try to get to the station on time. For a few years now, when we decide to go to the seaside, my husband and I have had a regular venue for meeting:

“See you at the entrance to the Wine Plaza, opposite the garden”.

The botanical gardens, for me perhaps the most fascinating part of the station. If I get there early, I always use the time for a walk between the exotic, majestic trees, in the warmth, trying to spot the turtles.
When it’s free, we always sit at the same table, the one in the corner on the right. We glance at the wine list, but we are terribly set in our ways – a sparkling white for me, a still red for him. This is when we start to forget about work.
Wine, the weekend, Madrid just a stone’s throw from the sea: Atocha is a different station from the one I knew as a girl.

Atocha, in the heart of Spain

The tall ceiling of the station, that garden with its giant trees in the middle of the hall, a glass of wine, people who – from every corner of Spain – come to the capital with their luggage of accents, people leaving to learn new ones: the two of us at our table, with the sea booked on our tickets and two days of chilling out ahead of us. We have our very own toast for this moment: “To Madrid’s sea”, we intone with the clink of our glasses.
This is a magic moment. Then we raise our glasses and savour our first sip of the weekend.

Autogrill at Puerta de Atocha

Recently renovated, Madrid’s Puerta de Atocha station is one of the fundamental nodes for Spain’s hi-speed rail network.

To mark the inauguration of the Madrid-Valencia line, in 2010 Autogrill powered up its presence here, opening new sales points and refurbishing existing ones. Big investments made by the Group in this station have led to more than double the turnover, from 4 million euros in 2002 to over 10 million today. Autogrill currently manages 12 eating places at Atocha, with a mix of ideas designed to satisfy the varied needs of around 5,000 clients crossing the station everyday.

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