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How France's €49 rail pass works

The Local France
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How France's €49 rail pass works
TER (Transport Express Regional) trains are pictured at Rennes railway station on December 9, 2019. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

France has now launched its €49-a-month rail pass - modelled on Germany's successful €49 ticket. Here's how it works and who can get one.

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Young people in France can now purchase the 'Pass Rail', which was launched on June 5th.

“This is excellent news for the 700,000 young people who will benefit from it during the summer period,” the French transport minister Patrice Vergiete told the French press, after confirming the plans in April.

French President Emmanuel Macron at the time also tweeted his enthusiasm for the plan, noting he had promised to put the ticket into action during a September segment with the YouTuber Hugo Travers.

 

Here's how it works;

Who

The original plan was for the rail pass to replicate Germany's €49 ticket (or 'D-Ticket'), which is valid on all local and regional buses, trains and trams for all ages.

But in France, the pass is only available for people aged 27 and under. It can only be bought by over-16s, under-16s have a different rail discount system.

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If you turn 28 over the summer, your pass will be valid until the day after your birthday. 

You do not need to be French, or living in France, in order to benefit from the pass.

When

The pass will be available only over the summer - it opened for purchase on June 5th, and is available for use during July and August, at the price of €49 per month.

The summer is intended to be a trial period, and the pass is set to be renewed if it proves to be a success.

Where

The pass is only for local and slower rail services.

It can be used on all local TER trains (with exceptions in the Paris region - see below).

It can also be used on Intercité trains, including night trains. If you are travelling on the night train and want to reserve a couchette (sleeping space), you will need to pay an extra €19.50, otherwise you can use the basic ticket which involves sleeping in a chair.

However the high-speed TGV routes (TGV Inoui, Ouigo and Ouigo Train classique) are not included.

International services like the Eurostar, Thalys or Lyria are not included.

Unfortunately, the greater Paris region of Île-de-France is not included in the initial experiment plan for summer 2024.

This means that travellers will be able to take TER trains into the Paris region or out of it using the €49 pass, but cannot use it to travel within the Paris region.

This is one of the biggest compromises - for the plan to succeed, the government needed to get the regions onside, as they have had the authority to set their own transport fees since 2017. 

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In early March, the government announced that the State would cover 80 percent of its cost for the unlimited rail pass, estimated to be around €15 million. The rest would have to be covered by the regions.

Ultimately, the heads of the regions eventually accepted the rail pass for summer 2024, with the exception of Île-de-France.

Xavier Bertrand, from the right-wing Les Républicains party and head of the Hauts-de-France region, told Franceinfo: "We still accepted because we do not want to penalise the young people of [our region]."

Meanwhile, the head of the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes region said they would give the green light for a one-year experiment, but specified they would not support its renewal "without the participation of all regions".

How

The rail pass can be bought on the SNCF-Connect platform (available as a website or an app) and the plan is that it will also be available via Trainline.

It is important to note that even if you have a Pass Rail, you will still need to reserve tickets in advance for each train you take - you buy the tickets online in the usual way, and when you get to the payment section you fill in your Rail Pass number and will then be charged €0 for the ticket. You can also buy tickets from kiosks in train stations by showing your Pass Rail.

There is a government information website with additional details.

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