The Spanish Government will pay for the train tickets price reduction in the end

After the Spanish Governments announcement to reduce the price of local train tickets by 5% with the aim of fostering public transportation to save fuel, the Catalan Government, which manages the service in Catalonia, quantified in 26 million euros its loss in 1 year. Therefore, the Catalan Executive refused to pay for the measure. The Spanish Government will pay 6.75 million euros for 3 months of the measure.


March 9, 2011 09:21 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- After two weeks of controversy, in the end, the Spanish Government will pay for its decision to reduce the price of local train tickets by 5%. The measure aims at making the use of public transportation more attractive to the citizens, in order to save fuel in a context of record oil prices and energy dependence. Since the Catalan Government manages the local and regional trains in Catalonia and is therefore responsible for the tariffs and profits from the associated revenues, it complained for not being consulted and for the consequent loss of revenues. The Catalan Government calculated that, if the measure was taken for an entire year, it would cost 26 million euros. The Spanish Government decided to start implementing the measure on the 7th March for four months. The measure was adopted in the whole of Spain except in Catalonia, Madrid and Asturias, where their Governments manage this competence. Their governments, pushed by the Catalan one, refused to implement the measure until the Spanish Government guarantees the Autonomies will not lose money. Today the Spanish Transport Ministry confirmed it would compensate the affected Autonomous Communities: 6.75 million euros for Catalonia, 10.8 million euros for Madrid and 0.3 million euros for Asturias. However, the agreement only ranges from the 1st April to the 30th June, excluding the days of March. In July, it will be seen if the 5% reduction is still to be applicable or not.

This apparently minor measure brought about a political storm in the relations between the Spanish and the Catalan Government. The Catalan Executive reacted loudly against the measure of reducing the local train tickets by 5%. It complained for two main reasons: firstly because it thinks the measure will have a small impact and it will not be translated into a significant increase of the use of public transport. Secondly, because the Spanish Government adopted once again a new measure that has an economic impact on the Catalan Government’s revenues without consulting Catalonia. And the Catalan Governmnent has had enough. Last week, the Catalan Executive’s spokesperson said “others invite people out for coffee and then they ask you to pay the bill”, at the exit of the Cabinet weekly meeting. The issue could look like a small anecdote, but what the Catalan Government is worried about is the manners and the series of decisions and their accumulated impact. The issue is particularly significant in the current times, as the Catalan Government is obliged to drastically cut its public expenditure. The Spanish Government, which is responsible for the largest part of Spain’s public debt and deficit, is pushing the Autonomous Communities’ Governments, and the Catalan one in particular, to cut public expenditure and to drastically reduce its deficit. And it does so while it also cuts the revenues it is legally bound to transfer to Catalonia.

The meeting in Madrid

The Catalan Deputy Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Damià Calvet, met this morning with Spanish Government’s Director General for Ground Transportation, Manuel Villalante. They agreed, together with representatives from Madrid Community and Asturias, on the quantities the Spanish Government will pay as compensation. The Catalan Government calculated the quantity for an entire year, but the agreement only covers 3 months, from the 1st of April to the 30th of June. The Catalan Government calculated that the measure would cost 26 million euros, as the train tickets can also be used in the city bus and the underground. In the end, all the public transport tickets will be included in the agreement and thus other sorts of public transportation, such as bus and underground, will benefit from the measure originally thought for local trains’ passengers. The technical meeting set the needed transfer in 6.75 million euros for these three months, in the case of Catalonia. Madrid got 10.8 millions and Asturias 0.3.