The Spanish parliament approved the government's energy saving plan on Monday and revealed details of the free rail travel scheme for regular users which will run between September to the end of the year. The aim is to reduce the pressure on households caused by high inflation, and the measure will cost the government 201 million euros.
Sources at the Ministry of Transport have said new travel cards will be created for these four months, and in the case of local services these will only be valid for individual cities (one for Madrid, another for Bilbao, etc).
To acquire one of the free travel cards for local trains, users will pay a deposit of 10 euros which will be refunded if they have made more than 16 journeys during the four months. If the user pays by credit card, the repayment will be credited directly to the card but if they pay in cash they will have to go to a ticket office for their refund.
For medium-distance rail journeys, the system will be similar. Regular users will buy a voucher which is valid for the four months, but will pay a refundable 20 euro deposit. The Ministry says this is cheaper than the price of three single tickets.
To ensure the measure is not abused and is useful for regular travellers, the cards will be valid for a particular medium-distance route – for example between Madrid and Salamanca – but people who do not use the trains often and foreign visitors can also benefit from it.
The government has confirmed that travel on the high-speed Avant trains (medium distance and AVE services) will not be completely free but there will be a 50% discount on multi-journey tickets. In this case, users will buy their season ticket as usual and the discount will be applied to the price.
It has also been decided to include some commercial high-speed routes in this scheme, with new travel cards and conditions similar to those for the Avant high-speed services where there are no Public Service Obligations (or framework agreements), and the journey time is under 100 minutes.
The lines which will benefit from these new discounts are Madrid-Palencia, Madrid-Zamora, León-Valladolid, Burgos-Madrid, León-Palencia, Burgos-Valladolid, Ourense-Zamora, Palencia-Valladolid, Huesca-Zaragoza and León-Segovia, among others.