Once a sea bed, the vast flatlands of Slavonia are perfect for farming. At one time, this area was the breadbasket for much of Yugoslavia. It really wasn’t so long ago that many folks left dry and dusty Dalmatia in search of employment and new lives on this fertile ground. Now, it’s the other way round – Slavonian youth travel to the coast each summer in search of seasonal work. Others move to Ireland, Germany, Austria. Slavonia is losing many skilled younger people at an alarming rate. Increased mechanisation has reduced the need for labour in the area’s agriculture. And, besides, most Slavonian youths are these days educated to a degree where their ambitions are greater than joining local agricultural endeavours.
In an area with limited possibilities, limited opportunities, education lies at the heart of survival in Slavonia. Local authorities know this and try to facilitate education as best they can. It is to that end that those in the Slavonian county of Osijek and Baranja have struck a deal with Croatia’s national train operator to offer free train travel to all full-time Osijek and Baranja students.
Agreed upon at the end of last year, the scheme was implemented on 1 January 2021. Osijek and Baranja County has agreed to co-finance journeys for full-time Osijek and Baranja students who study not only within the county itself but across the whole of Croatia.
Osijek train station © Romulić & Stojčić
Monthly tickets for travel within the county already held a discount of up to 65 percent given to full-time students by the train operator, depending on the route. The County has now agreed to pay the remainder of the monthly ticket for all full-time Osijek and Baranja students. To meet the requirements of this deal, the departing and destination stations must both be in Osijek-Baranja County. The free monthly ticket allows an unlimited number of trips on the route, meaning that Osijek and Baranja students can also use the train for free on recreational journeys within the county.
The second deal sees the County co-finance 50% of journey costs for full-time Osijek and Baranja students who study elsewhere in Croatia, with the train operator HŽ agreeing to grant a discount to cover the other 50 %.
In order to obtain a free (monthly or individual) ticket, it is necessary to first obtain a certificate from their Administrative Department for the Economy. To get the certificate, Osijek and Baranja students must submit a copy of their identity card, a certificate of full-time study and two completed application forms (these can be found on the county’s website www.obz.hr). Requests can be made in person or by mail (Osijek-Baranja County, Administrative Department for Economy, Županijska 4, Osijek or on the e-mail: [email protected]
Free tickets can thereafter be bought by Osijek and Baranja students at the box office, prior to travel, or on the train itself, upon producing the relevant and needed documentation.