A passenger with one of the free travel passes at Malaga's María Zambrano station. / ñito salas

Free local train tickets for frequent travellers in Spain: “The services should always be subsidised, people are struggling now"

Rail passengers in Malaga welcomed the government's scheme to offset the cost of living, which will be valid for at least for four months and came into force yesterday, 1 September

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

Workers, students and regular users of the local train services in Malaga have been keen to take advantage of the free travel cards which the government in Madrid has introduced as a temporary measure to offset the rising cost of living.

The scheme began on Thursday, 1 September, by which time the Renfe railway company had supplied about 7,300 cards for the C1 (Fuengirola) and C2 (Álora) local lines in Malaga and another 550 for medium-distance journeys.

When asked for their opinion about the scheme, most passengers were all in favour of it and said it should be permanent. “It should always be like this, not just for a few months. People are struggling these days,” said Inmaculada, who lives in Malaga and works in a hotel in Fuengirola.

Another young woman that SUR spoke to, Lucía, lives in Pedregalejo and has just started work experience in Torremolinos. “It’s a great idea, it means I will save money now that I have to commute,” she said.

“I think it’s fantastic, because I spend a lot on train fares,” said María de los Ángeles, who travels from Ciudad Jardín to Benalmádena six days a week to her part-time job as a waitress. “It will save me 60.85 euros a month for four months; it’ll really make a difference, especially as everything costs so much now,” she said.

How does it work?

The free travel passes are available on the Renfe Cercanías app and from ticket offices and self-service machines in railway stations.

The passes themselves do not cost anything, but holders have to leave a deposit of ten euros for local train services and 20 euros for medium-distance journeys. Paying by bank card will make it easier for the deposit to be refunded at the end of the validity period if the holder has complied with the terms and conditions, eg has made at least 16 journeys during the four-month period the scheme is in force. If the deposit is made in cash, passengers will have to apply in person for the refund.

Other fare reductions also came into force on Thursday on other forms of public transport, such as the EMT in Malaga (with discounts of 35% to 40%), the Malaga Metro (30%) and Transport Consortium buses (30%).