With good sense, the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer) Costa Rican Railway – admitted it will not request a fare increase in train services until it improves quality for the benefit of users.

The first step planned by the railway is the contracting of an internal audit of financial statements and thus present to the Public Services Regulatory Authority (Aresep), by the end of this year, three specific actions: a correction in the rates on the Alajuela- Heredia, news rates for San Jose – Oreamuno de Cartago, and the establishment of special rates for services for concerts or sporting events.

For the moment, much of that will depend on the arrival of the new trains (estimated for the end of 2020 or early 2021) and the completion of some works (as in Paraíso and Oreamuno).

In the last 5 years, the Incofer failed in attempts to increase rates. For example, in 2016, a flat rate of ¢620 colones (fixed amount) was proposed for the Cartago-Alajuela route. However, the Aresep rejected the proposals for lack of sufficient grounds to justify the increase.

Costa Rica’s commuter train

In addition, in 2017 the Defensoría de los Habitantes (Ombudsman’s Office) opposed the intention of the Incofer to charge ¢650 colones for the Alajuela-Heredia route.

“We can not update (increase) rates if we do not offer a real improvement in the service for the user, ” acknowledged Elizabeth Briceño, executive president of the Incofer.

What are the current rates on the commuter train?

  • Belén – San José: ¢330.
  •  San José – Curridabat: ¢490
  • Cartago – San José: ¢550.
  • Ulatina – Heredia: ¢460.
  •  Atlantic Station (San José) – Heredia: ¢420
  • Alajuela – Heredia: ¢585

And the Cartago – Paraiso train?

Briceño responded that it will have to wait until the new equipment arrives is in the country.

Last December, the Incofer awarded the Chinese company CRRC Quingdao Sifang the contract for eight two-car diesel multiple-units to be delivered in 18 months, at a cost of US$32 million dollars.

Currently, the Incofer has 11 Apolo trains and 4 locomotives with 24 wagons for the different routes between San José, Alajuela, Belén, Heredia, and Cartago. They are mostly old, outdated and deteriorated.

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