·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
Thu, 14 July 2022 at 5:32 pm
Spain has announced it will make some short- and middle-distance train journeys completely free as the government seeks to combat the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez said on Tuesday that all Cercanías (commuter trains), Rodalies (commuter routes in Catalonia) and Media Distancia routes (mid-distance regional lines which cover distances less than 300km) run by the national rail system will be free from 1 September 1 to 31 December this year.
The 100% discount will only apply to multi-trip tickets, not single fares.
The new scheme comes in addition to the government funding a discount of between 30-50% on all public transport – including metros, buses and trams.
Spanish inflation has accelerated in the past few months and surpassed 10% for the first time in 37 years during the 12 months to June.
Sanchez said soaring inflation was the biggest challenge for Spain, likening it to “a serious illness of our economy that impoverishes everyone, especially the most vulnerable groups”.
He also announced 100 euros a month in complementary scholarships for students older than 16 years who already receive scholarships.
“I am fully aware of the daily difficulties that most people face. I know that your salary is getting less and less, that it is difficult to make ends meet, and that your shopping basket is becoming more and more expensive”, Sánchez said.
Spain’s announcement comes as food and energy prices have surged across Europe as countries try to manage the fallout of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Thursday, the European Commission warned inflation could hit historic highs of 7.6%, up from last month’s prediction of 6.1%.
In the UK, inflation increased to 9.1% in May and is expected to have risen further in June when the latest readings are confirmed later this month.
A new report released on Wednesday showed families in the UK have been left £8,800 ($10,443) poorer than households in comparable countries due to a “toxic combination” of low growth and inequality.
The study, published by the Resolution Foundation think tank and London School of Economics (LSE), estimates that the income of the typical low- and middle-earning family is a third less.
It found the poorest households are at an even greater disadvantage, with their incomes 40% behind in the comparison against five nations – Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Stagnation Nation, the interim report of the Economy 2030 Inquiry, blames the gap on a triple whammy of low growth, low productivity and high inequality that it says has had “disastrous consequences” for British families.
There is mounting concern over soaring energy costs, with annual bills expected to climb above £3,000 when the price cap is increased in October.