Spain extends free train travel for 2023

  • 15 December 2022
  • 4 replies

Userlevel 7
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Although not new info, just a reminder that the Spanish government has extended its free travel (subject to buying a pass, refundable if used regularly) on Local and regional (MD/Avant) trains for the whole of 2023. In 2022 these were available to tourists, and I haven’t seen anything different yet. There is also a 50% pass available for Avant/AVE services, but I think I heard this is off the full price so early booking fares may still be cheaper if you PAYG, not using a pass.

So anybody planning trips to Spain may find local and MD trains crowded. 

Also this may change the way you travel with a Global pass, since the Barcelona to Port Bou train is included in the scheme and Barcelona has many Rodalies services and I expect MD trains as well.

Info on the 2023 offers is still sparse, but the details of the 2022 scheme is available via the Renfe Cercanias app. They are called Abonos Gratuitos.

In 2022 you simply needed to register with Renfe and buy the pass, either in advance or at a station/ticket machine and then present the QR code at the gate. (Paper versions are supposedly available).

4 replies

Userlevel 7
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In fact this will not serve any tourist-just as it is now (when I was in ESpana late oct-on my 3-mo pass this was over there already widely spread via news etc.). It boils down to have to buy first a normal season anyway and then later get the money back if you are also able to show you have used it at least half of the days that card was valid for. Most areas now have chipcard-styles gates, so that as such is easy to do. You need even an ENI=national to claim this. It thus means that-if they take all the trouble and are not completely illegal-the many foreign workers (mostly ROmanian or latino from mercosur) are entitled to.

I also did not really note any higher demand on trains-newspprs said it was still like 80-90% of pre-covid levels, even with this discount.  But then of course my views were limited in scale and area. A same type of discount is also available in many cities for the urban buses

Nearly all questions on this forum are for the AVE-and even more for the only 2 such remaining as TGV to the FRancia. and these are all wholly out of this scheme.

Userlevel 7
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What a load of ********.

This is not a normal season ticket, but a totally separate pass for all. Yes you have to put down a cash deposit of 10 euro for local regional trains and 20 euro for the MD trains, but this is returned to those who use it the required number of times. Obviously many tourists will not reach that hurdle to get their money back, but for 20 euro on an MD train you would not get very far, and for 10 euro on Cercanias you only have to use it 3 or 4 times to get that value.

You are obviously confusing it with the advice to those already in Spain who do have standard season tickets who have to follow separate processes to benefit.

All a tourist has to do is register with Renfe via the app and “ buy” this pass. Or if registered they can buy at the station or on ticket machines, albeit a little confusing that you need a start and finish station and then choose the 10 euro option. It then shows as a season ticket from A to B but operates as a free pass throughout that local network. 

Like a mobile global pass it can be a bit challenging if you have Internet connection problems, but you can apparently get a paper version with the QR code needed to open gates on it from ticket offices.

Just like the advice given by many, and followed by many more, we all have to consider options and costs. Most posters  are actually clever enough to work out what their best value will be, despite your regular derogatory comments that suggest anybody posting a simple question is educationally challenged.

This post was prompted by the recent question on Spanish reservations about travelling on trains not requiring reservations. Having used the regional pass recently (albeit knowing I would never get my 10 euro back) I advised about it as it seemed a useful addition to her options. I then realised that many followers may miss that post so posted it as a separate conversation point, much as the German 49 euro pass next year.

It is also of interest to anybody outside Interrail who want to spend time in Spain so if you know somebody who would like to spend a few weeks in Spanish sun they can zip up and down the Costas for free throughout their stay just pass this on - just as we planned to do in Germany in 2023 (Bavaria and the Black Forest on Dbahn non-ICE for 49 euro.




As I do not speak Spanish and limited information about the free ticket is available online, your summary and comment really help.


Planning to travel to Spain in May 2023, will wait for the official updates

Userlevel 7
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The official info is now available and it seems the first local passes will be available until end of April. As in the 2022 Abonos scheme you get a free pass but need to put down a 10 euro deposit, which will be returned at the end if you make 16 trips in the validity period. 

As before you need to register with Renfe and then you can buy the Abonos at many different places including the Cercanias App.

The system is based on regional hubs and you need a different pass for each hub. Barcelona (Rodalies) is extensive but Malaga (Cercanias) only has 2 lines, one along the coast to Fuengirola and one out to Alora.
I doubt these will be of use to Interrail travellers covering the main cities, but ideal for those staying in a city and exploring nearby delights, especially in Barcelona. Note this includes the train from Barcelona to Port Bou (R11) and the one to Puigcerda (R3) to connect with SNCF services. The single fare on these lines is 12-14 euro so one trip saves the cost.

Note the Media distance and Avant schemes are actually 50% discounts on season tickets between specific start/stop trips so of no interest to tourists.

The Cercanias/Rodalies pass will have a designated departure/arrival station but it is valid for all train journeys in that hub, it is simply how the system creates the initial pass and QR code - you put in your journey and then choose the Abonos as your fare - then the QR code remains valid until the end of April.