Spain is currently experiencing a cost of living crisis, but the Spanish government are introducing a series of measures aimed at lessening the impact of this crisis on Spanish families. One of these measures is the introduction of free rail travel in Spain for journeys that meet certain parameters. From 1st September, if you travel on a Renfe service (the train line that is owned by the Spanish state) then short journeys on various routes will be completely free of charge. Here’s everything you need to know about this free rail travel offer, and how it might affect you:
Which Journeys Will Be Free?
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced news that will be music to the ears of Spanish commuters. From 1st September, certain journeys on the Renfe train network will be available free of charge. The journeys that will be included in this offer are multi-ticket journeys on the Cercanías and Rodalies lines, along with those on regional lines of less than 300km (Media Distancia). This measure will initially be in place until 31st December, meaning you can travel for free on these routes until the end of the year. The scheme will then be reassessed at the end of the year.
Journeys that aren’t included in this free travel measure include:
- Journeys with any other rail firm that is not Renfe.
- Long distance train journeys
- Single trips
The reason long distance train journeys and single trips have been excluded from this measure is to ensure that season ticket holders and regular commuters are the ones that benefit from this policy change, rather than tourists from other countries or Spanish citizens hoping to take a one-off trip.
Why Has this Measure Been Introduced?
According to Sanchez, the measure was introduced as a direct response to the cost-of-living crisis, in a bid to ease the financial pressures that many families are experiencing. In an official statement on the issue, Sanchez said that “I am fully aware of the daily difficulties that most people face...I know that your salary is getting less and less, that it is difficult to make ends meet, and that your shopping basket is becoming more and more expensive. I am going to work my skin to the bone to defend the working class of this country.”
This isn’t the first measure that Sanchez has introduced to the rail works in a bid to reduce the financial burden on commuters in Spain. On 25th June, a 50% discount on Renfe journeys was introduced: this was intended to encourage commuters to use trains rather than drive in the face of fast-rising fuel costs. Now the concession has not only been extended but improved.
How Will the Spanish Government Pay for These Measures?
The Spanish government have revealed that they will pay for the free train travel they are offering via a new windfall tax on banks and energy firms who have profited massively from the recent rise in interest rates and the price of fuel. This tax will be introduced in 2023 and it is forecast that it will bring in around 7 billion euros over two years and will also help to fund 12,000 new homes and youth scholarship programmes.
Spain isn’t the only country that are introducing discounted public travel measures in order to ease the cost of living crisis for its citizens. Germany recently introduced a similar package. Between June and August, commuters in Germany will pay just 9 euros per month for unlimited travel.
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