France will launch a mega-cheap rail pass this summer

France will launch a mega-cheap rail pass this summer
France will launch a mega-cheap rail pass this summer

It’s only becoming more convenient to travel by train, and not just because of the abundance of new high-speed services, sleeper trains and picturesque routes across Europe. Rail travel, along with becoming more efficient, is also becoming significantly more affordable. 

After Germany relaunched their deutschlandticket and Portugal announced an incredibly budget-friendly rail pass, France is jumping on the bandwagon and offering travellers a super-cheap monthly rail ticket, which will kick off this summer to coincide with the Olympics.

Like Portugal and Germany’s respective schemes, the French pass will cost only €49 (£42, $53). Given that this includes unlimited travel across TER regional services, intercity trains, and possibly even local bus, metro and tram travel, it sounds like an absolute steal!

However, there is a catch. Criticism from regional authorities has led to a scaling-back of the original offering. The cheap monthly pass is now only eligible for travellers aged 27 and under. It also won’t be valid on high-speed TGV trains and will exclude the Ile-de-France region (which includes Paris and is the most populated in France).

But if you’re lucky enough to use the rail pass, you are in for some killer savings – even if you only make a handful of journeys per month. The pass will be valid on TER routes such as Bordeaux to Arcachon, which usually costs around €15 (£12.85, $16), and Marseille to Toulon, which costs €17 (£14.60 , $18.25). 

Rail travel is seeing an overhaul not just in France but across Europe, largely to encourage people to opt for more sustainable modes of transport. 

The announcement of the French travel pass comes after several of the country’s short-haul flights routes were banned, and Transport Minister Clément Beaune proposed a minimum flight price policy to the EU. 

Research showed that an alarmingly small proportion of flyers take a huge proportion of flights in Europe. Along with the new restrictions on flight routes and prices, the travel pass could be a major step towards reducing travel emissions. 

The deutschlandticket has been hailed as the ‘biggest public transport reform in German history,’ by authorities, according to euronews. What’s more, VDV, a German Transport Association, estimates that 1.8 million tonnes of carbon emissions were saved between July and August 2023, thanks to people using the pass. 

Now that the conditions of the French rail pass are set in stone, it will hopefully be available from summer 2024. 

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