These are the trending news headlines in Spain on Tuesday April 4, 2023
Free Train travel pass, Travel rent scam arrests, Passport offices strike
In a bid to encourage travel, Spain’s main rail operator Renfe has announced that passengers can now apply for a free travel pass that will allow them to travel for free on Cercanías, Rodalies, and Media Distancia services between May 1 and August 31. Users of Renfe’s Avant trains can also enjoy a 50% discount on new routes. To obtain the free pass, passengers can use the Rene Cercanías application, Renfe’s website, or get it from train stations and vending machines after registering. Passengers will need to pay a deposit of 10 or 20 euros, which is refundable at the end of the four-month period, provided they have taken at least 16 trips. Renfe has implemented certain control measures to prevent abuse of the system, such as allowing only four trips per day on the same route and suspending the pass of passengers who don’t cancel unused seats.
Spanish police have arrested 29 people and are investigating another 13 for allegedly scamming tourists out of thousands of euros by renting out non-existent holiday apartments. The operation, dubbed “Rent Scam,” was launched after officers noticed a surge in complaints related to fake rentals. The fraudsters reportedly advertised properties they had photographed but did not own on well-known online forums at prices much lower than market rates. The suspects then demanded upfront payments, which were transferred by victims to bank accounts operated by the criminal organisation. The investigation revealed a complex organisation that involved several cells responsible for various steps of the scam. Officers have seized computers, electronic devices and documentation, and blocked more than 75 fraudulent bank accounts.
More than 1,000 staff at the UK passport offices are on strike between April 3 and May 5, which could affect the processing of travel documents for passengers travelling to Spain. The industrial action comes at a crucial time with Easter and two Bank Holiday weekends just around the corner, and the summer season on the horizon. The Public and Commercial union representing passport office workers across the UK has warned that the strike will have a “significant impact” on the processing of travel documents. While the British government has assured that processing should not be unduly delayed, travel experts advise passengers to check their passport expiry dates now and plan ahead to avoid potential bottlenecks. The eight passport offices participating in the strike are in Glasgow, Durham, Liverpool, Southport, Peterborough, London, Newport and Belfast.
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