French and Germany transport ministers announced in a joint press release that 60,000 free train tickets would be made available to young people to help facilitate exchange between the two countries this summer.
The release did not specify the age restrictions, but the ‘young person’s railcard’ schemes in France are available to people under 26.
French and German transport ministers Clément Beaune and Volker Wissing announced that “60,000 tickets will be made available free of charge, according to terms and conditions which will be specified shortly”.
The scheme will be supported financially by both countries’ national rail service – SNCF for France, and Deutsche Bahn for Germany. French media reported that tickets will be allocated through a draw.
The goal of the free ticket plan, which is set to be put into place during the summer of 2023, is to encourage young people to travel between the two countries, and to build up more cultural exchange between France and Germany.
It was announced to coincide with the 60th anniversary of France and Germany signing of the Élysée Treaty – which helped to build bilateral cooperation between the former adversaries.
The two heads of state – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, met in Paris on Sunday to mark the occasion.
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Additionally, the German transport minister told French daily Libération that the project was also intended to fight against climate change, by incentivising rail travel.
“The plan aims to achieve our climate objectives for the transport sector. We need to convince even more people to travel by train. To do this, we have to offer attractive offers,” Wissing said.
Germany has already announced other schemes to encourage rail travel, such as the implementation of the €49 monthly rail pass.
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The French transport ministry also highlighted that the free ticket scheme is not the only rail service plan to better connect the two countries. The Paris to Berlin high speed TGV train is set to be launched in 2024, and by late 2023 (or early 2024) the night train connecting the two cities will make its return.
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Travellers can also take advantage of other high-speed lines connecting the two countries, such as the high speed direct line that already connects Paris to Munich.