While some governments dither and delay in taking action to help out with the cost-of-living crisis, Spain is storming ahead. Having already halved the cost of public transport nationwide, slashed VAT and cut tax on fuel, the Spanish government now says it is going to be making a huge number of short- and medium-distance train journeys totally free.
The scheme was announced yesterday (July 12) by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, who said that all Cercanías (commuter train), Rodalies (commuter routes in Catalonia) and Media Distancia routes (mid-distance regional lines, covering journeys of less than 300km) run by the national rail operator Renfe will be free of charge from September 1 to December 31 2022.
For travellers visiting Spain, free Cercanías and Rodalies trains will unlock easy trips to the outer reaches of the city. But it’s the free Media Distancia trains which are really exciting: you’ll be able to city-hop all the way from Barcelona to Seville or Madrid to Bilbao, discovering a few underrated Spanish regional capitals along the way, all for absolutely nada.
It is worth noting that the 100 percent discount will be on multi-trip tickets, and single fares are not included.
The new scheme on Renfe routes is in addition to a policy announced last week, in which the central Spanish government said it would fund between 30 and 50 percent discount on all public transport, including metros, buses and trams.
The idea of the price cuts is to reduce the impact of inflation and the war in Ukraine on Spanish consumers. Alongside other cost-of-living measures, these cuts are due to be funded by a windfall tax on the banks and energy firms who are currently profiting the most off of high energy bills and interest rates. That tax is due to come into effect in 2023 and is set to generate about €7 billion (£5.9 billion, $7 billion) in tax revenue.
Of course, cutting public transport fares (unlike reducing fuel tax) is also great for getting people to switch away from polluting private transport and even air travel, tackling the climate emergency as well as the cost-of-living crisis.
All of which means that, from September, travelling around Spain will be exceptionally cheap indeed. So what are you waiting for? Get planning that early-autumn jaunt around the Iberian peninsula!
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