Short and medium distance train journeys in Spain will be free of charge for four months from September, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Tuesday (12 July).
All commuter trains (Cercanías and Rodalies) and mid-distance regional lines covering journeys of less than 300km (Media Distancia routes) run by the national rail operator Renfe will be free from 1 September to 31 December.
The 100 per cent discount is only available on multi-trip tickets, not singles. Travel on other services, including long distance trains and those operated by other companies, will not come under the measures.
This could mean free train travel between cities like Barcelona and Seville or Madrid and Bilbao - if you are willing to commit to buying a season ticket.
A 50 per cent discount on Renfe train tickets was already introduced in June in an effort to help out commuters. But, after reviewing the financial state of the country, Prime Minister Sánchez decided to make journeys completely free for a certain period.
Why is Spain making train travel free?
The free train tickets are aimed at reducing the impact of the cost of living crisis in the country.
Germany introduced a similar measure, which is still in effect, from June to August with a discounted nationwide public transport pass. It means travellers can enjoy unlimited use of local and regional services for just €9 a month.
But Spain has decided to go one step further by making train travel on its Renfe services free between September and December this year.
“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,” Sanchez said.
“I am going to work my skin to the bone to defend the working class of this country.”
The free rail tickets will be funded by a new windfall tax on banks and energy companies that have profited from rising interest rates and energy prices. The new levy is set to be introduced in 2023 and could generate up to €7 billion in two years.
It will also be used to build 12,000 new homes and fund youth scholarship programmes.