Train near Alicante, Spain.

Train near Alicante, Spain.
© Shutterstock

Spain extends free train travel to 2023

Spain has announced that it will be extending its free train travel scheme, launched earlier this year, until the end of 2023.

The country introduced free train tickets for both short and medium-length journeys within the country at the beginning of September, with the scheme initially expected to run until 31st December. However, Spain’s Minister for Finance, María Jesús Montero, has now pledged €700 million to keep the scheme running until the end of next year. Montero explained that the scheme has benefitted tourists and the local population, leading to more people using public transport and reducing emissions.

So far, more than 1.5 million multifare tickets have been purchased using the offer. Montero also commented that the environmental benefits of the scheme will continue to be assessed to decide whether such a scheme should continue to be implemented in future years. The money required to fund the scheme has been generated by Spain’s new tax, which will be introduced in 2023, on energy companies and banks that have made a profit from rising interest rates.

Available for locals and tourists

The free train tickets are available for locals and tourists through the Spanish train operator Renfe on the Cercanías and Rodalies commuter lines, as well as medium-distance regional routes of less than 300km. However, the offer does not cover long-distance trains and high-speed services. The scheme, originally announced by Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, in July, is mainly directed at current residents; however international tourists can also take advantage while visiting Spain.

The free tickets are not available on single-trip fares; passengers must buy a multi-trip ticket to qualify. The tickets are available by registering online for a Mas Renfe card with a QR code, which must then be shown to station staff when making your journey. When booking tickets via the Renfe app, the site will also not allow an outgoing ticket to be purchased until your first train has departed due to people taking advantage of the scheme by booking fares which they did not use. Although the tickets are free, a deposit of between €10 and €20 is needed to confirm your purchase. Currently, passengers can claim this back if they make at least 16 journeys by the end of December; however, with the scheme extending into the new year, rules for this may differ.

On top of this offer, travellers on long-distance journeys also have the option to claim back 50% of their ticket price. In accordance with the current scheme, bus, tram and metro ticket prices have all also been cut by 30%, which is also likely to continue into 2023. The scheme was initially introduced to combat the cost-of-living crisis affecting many European countries, which have seen rising interest rates and energy costs. The Prime Minister said that he was aware of people’s salaries getting lower while the cost of other amenities continued to rise. A similar scheme was introduced in Germany over the summer months, which allowed people to book train fares for just €9.

India-Jayne Trainor
India-Jayne Trainor