Slashed – 50,000 to lose Ferrocarril discount

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ORANGE EXPRESS: Began in 1911.

Soller residents will no longer receive a discount on the famous Ferrocarril train line. The European Commission ruled that the subsidy discriminated against tourists after a German national made a formal complaint. 

The European Union threatened sanctions against the Balearic government if it did not comply with the demand to abolish the resident’s discount. Jaume Mateu, the regional transport minister, has now confirmed that residents will be forced to pay the full fare from April 1. 

Tickets on the famous train, one of Mallorca’s biggest tourist attractions, presently cost €16 for tourists and €7 for local residents. The vast majority of passengers are guests, who accounted for over 90 per cent of the line’s almost two million journeys made last year. 

That still leaves 50,000 people who will have their Balearic resident’s discount card taken away from them. The Balearic government is reportedly working on establishing a new subsidy system for locals, especially those who rely on the train to make a living or see relatives. 

Different modes of transport may be considered, or users will be rewarded for frequent journeys with financial discounts that make no mention of residency. Another option is making return trips from Soller to Palma cheaper than two singles, or the more popular Palma-Soller route. 

The European Commission’s decision found the discount to be illegal on the grounds that it discriminated against people on the basis of their nationality. Becoming a resident of Soller is not restricted by nationality or golden visa applicants. 

The Ferrocarril de Soller is expected to do excellent business in 2017. Work first began on the railway, advertised to tourists as the Orange Express, more than a century ago in 1911. 

Demands have long existed to update Mallorca’s transport infrastructure to reduce reliance on the railway and the attendant cost for residents with business in Palma. 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. ONE tourist complained and 50,00 local people lose their discount? Is this story credible?
    Local people depend on the train to get to work in Palma, Soller and Port de Soller. The alternative is an already overcrowded, unreliable and infrequent bus service. At morning rush hour it is sometimes not possible to get onto the Port de Soller to Palma bus due to high passenger numbers.
    People without cars depend on the train to get to the shops of Palma, the markets and the beach at the port. They depend on it to visit and socialise with friends and family.
    It is true that the prices charged to tourists to travel on the train are exorbitant, especially for larger families. However, this is not a daily expense for the tourist.
    Will the bus companies now increase the frequency of their services? Will they provide a shelter at the Port de Soller bus terminal so that the inevitably-increasing numbers of passengers are not forced to stand in searing heat or rain while waiting for oft-delayed buses?
    It will be interesting to see the outcomes of negotiations between the privately-owned train company and the local government. Perhaps a subscription system?
    This is perhaps a salutary lesson in allowing essential services such as transport – where there are few options / choices and therefore little or no competition – to rest in private ownership.

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