The Slovakian government has endorsed proposals to subsidise rail travel for around 46 per cent of its citizens – a total of over two million people. The measures are part of a national economic stimulus package worth € 250m and offer free second-class rail travel to children under 15 years of age, full-time students between 16 and 26, and retired, widowed, or disabled pensioners over 62. Slovakia’s Ministry of Transport has said that the measure will ‘improve the situation of socially disadvantaged groups of citizens, and positively affect their living standards’. It will also apply to full-time students and pensioners from other EU Member States.
The concession will be available on services run by the state-owned operator ZSSK and regional services in western Slovakia run by Czech operator RegioJet. To cope with an expected rise in demand following the measure’s implementation, ZSSK will offer 103 new services later in December. This includes more long-distance trains and services between regional centres, as well as more suburban services in cities, representing the country’s largest increase in train services for a decade.
Original author: Lewis Macdonald