MADRID – The free train ticket for various journeys in Spain will be extended for another year until at least December 2023. The Spanish government wants to help commuters fight inflation.
The extension of this aid for people in Spain who regularly take the train was announced on Tuesday by the Minister of the Budget, María Jesús Montero during the presentation of the general state budgets for 2023. To finance the extension, Montero has indicated to make free a budget of €700 million. This will be spent almost entirely on financing the measure. The money will go to regional governments and the transport authorities.
Only valid for weekly and monthly subscriptions
The extension means that tickets for all commuter trains from Cercanías and Rodalies (short distances) and regional routes for medium distances under 300 kilometres of state rail company Renfe will be free until the end of 2023. Free travel is only offered on multi-journey tickets. This includes weekly and monthly season tickets. However it does not include single journeys or high-speed trains.
Stimulating the use of collective transport
The government defines the extension of free travel by train as a structural measure to promote the use of collective transport, in particular the train. Thereby, it removes private vehicles from the road in order to reduce the associated pollution. The offer for free train travel came into effect on September 1. Furthermore, the economic and environmental impact of the measure will be assessed in December 2023.
How does it work?
To take advantage of the free travel offer, passengers must pay a deposit of €10 on Cercanías or Rodalies. For Media Distancia trains, a deposit of €20 is required. This deposit will be refunded at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made in the first four months. However, now that the offer has been extended, it’s unclear exactly how many trips travellers will need to make to get their deposits back in 2023.
The number of train passengers increased
Since the launch of the free train ticket plan (September 2022), the number of journeys on medium-distance trains has grown by 40%. Also, short-distance trains from Cercanías have grown by 24%. So far, 1.5 million free multi-ride tickets have been requested. However, the goal is to reach 2 million by the end of the year. In Catalonia, 12.85% of the active population has bought one of these passes. In Madrid, for its part, the figure falls to 10.9%.