Some passengers have been unable to book seats even though the trains are nearly empty. / A. Gómez

Train operator warns 75,000 people that they are abusing Spain's free travel pass system

Renfe will now cancel the travel passes and confiscate the 20 euro deposit for those who book seats on trains but fail to use them on three occasions


People who abuse the free rail travel pass system in Spain will no longer be able to use it, the Renfe train operating company is warning. So far it has detected 75,000 offenders and is in the process of sending them text messages or emails to let them know that if they persist their passes will be cancelled.

The move comes after a number of complaints from travellers that medium-distance trains are empty but they have not been able to buy a ticket. This is because some users have been reserving seats on trains which leave at different times of day and then only catching one of them or not travelling at all.

Three warnings maximum

Renfe has said that this will be a first warning. It will confiscate the 20 euro deposit paid by offenders when three warnings have been sent and will also cancel their travel pass and not allow them to have another for one month.

The company is asking passengers to cancel their reservations at least two hours in advance if they are not planning to travel, to ensure that seats are available for others. It has also pointed out that the conditions of free rail travel are that no more than four single or return journeys may be made in a day.

However, despite some people abusing the free travel system Renfe has also pointed out that this only applies to 3% of the more than 2.3 million season tickets acquired, but it “is detrimental to other passengers because it limits their travel options when the whole point of this measure is to encourage people to use public transport and thereby reduce CO2 emissions," it said in a statement.