Spain announces free train travel from September until the end of the year | Rail fares
Where most governments have been slow in their efforts to tackle inflation, Spain has gone full steam ahead with a program making some train journeys totally free.
The initiative allows passengers to cross Catalonia, immerse themselves in the architectural splendours of Andalusia or explore the museums and restaurants of the Basque Country.
The announcement came on Tuesday, when Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government said travel on parts of the public rail network, Renfe, would be free from September 1 until the end of the year.
This new arrangement on Renfe routes comes on top of a policy announced last month in which the central government agreed a 30% reduction on all public transport, including metros, buses and trams.
100% rail discounts will apply to multi-trip journeys on cercanías (suburban services) and media distancing, or medium distance routes (less than 300 km). The measure is mainly aimed at Spanish subscriptions but tourists could benefit from it if they buy multi-trip tickets.
“I would like the Spanish people to know that I am fully aware of the daily difficulties that most people face,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Tuesday. “I know that the salaries cover less and less and that it is difficult to arrive at the end of the month.”
Price reductions are implemented to cushion the impact of inflation and rapidly rising energy prices.
“This measure encourages the use of public transport to guarantee a safe, reliable, comfortable, economical and sustainable way of making daily trips in the context of extraordinary increases in energy and fuel prices,” said the Spanish Ministry of Transport in a press release.
Spain is not the only European country seeking to reduce public transport costs.
In May, Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national rail company, launched a €9 ticket that gives a full month of travel from June to the end of August. Two stations in Germany can be connected to the offer, so passengers traveling more than 50 miles can save money with a single trip.
And Austria launched its “Klimaticket” (climate ticket) at the end of 2021. While the morning ride can eat into budgets, the ticket offers rides for just €3. Designed to encourage Austrians to ditch their cars, the scheme proved hugely popular, with its website nearly crashing when tickets went on sale.
Britons, meanwhile, continue to be burdened with sky-high ticket prices. In February, it was announced that rail fares would rise by an average of 3.8% in England and Wales. Railfuture, an independent organization seeking to reform the railways, has suggested that commuters’ annual travel costs will seem insurmountable as long as fares rise.