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France set to launch €49 rail pass this summer: Who is eligible and when will it start?

France set to launch €49 rail pass this summer: Who is eligible and when will it start?

Following on from the success of Germany’s Deutschlandticket, France is set to launch its own version this summer.

In an interview with AFP on Wednesday French transport minister Patrice Vergriete said an agreement had been found with all regions. The scheme is expected to cost €49 per month and it will be available to around 700,000 young people under the age of 27 this July and August.

It will allow unlimited travel on TER and Intercity trains but will exclude high-speed TGV trains.

Back in September, President Emmanuel Macron promised the introduction of a national rail pass during an interview with the journalist and Youtuber known as Hugo Decrypt.

It was originally supposed to mirror the Deustchlandticket that allows unlimited travel on all local and regional public transport for €49 regardless of age in Germany.

The ticket has been a success with more than three million sales since its launch.

Is the French rail pass similar to the Deustchlandticket?

The French ticket quickly encountered problems with some regional mayors criticising the lack of detail in the plans and the offer of the state to fund 80 per cent of the cost, estimated to be €15 million.

“In six months, the initial announcement of a French-style Deutschlandticket has now been translated into a €49 subscription for two months, on a network outside the Ile-de-France region, and only for young people,” Regions of France said in a statement on Wednesday.

The exclusion of the Ile-de-France region (the most populated in France) has also caused frustration.

“To travel around France, young people in the Haut-de-France region will have to buy an additional ticket worth up to €16 in the Ile-de-France region, in addition to the Rail Pass, in order to be able to transfer to other regions,” the Hauts-de-France region, which includes Lille and Calais, said.

Despite concerns, regional authorities have now agreed to the plans, according to Vergriete. It will initially be a one year experiment but there are hopes for it to be extended and expanded in the future.

What routes could you travel on with the France rail pass?

While there are criticisms of the plan, it will open up large parts of the country at affordable rates this summer for young people.

TER trains connect local destinations within French regions and serve around 1.1 million passengers per day.

Popular TER routes include Bordeaux to Arcachon (which costs around €13) and Marseille to Toulon (€14). Commuters who make these journeys regularly could save hundreds of euros with a pass.

The less than four-hour trip from Lyon to Marseille is another option where a one-way ticket often costs more than the €49 price of the new rail pass.

Popular intercity train routes include Bordeaux to Montpellier and the rail pass would also lead to savings on a return trip.