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France and Germany announce 60,000 free train tickets this summer

Young people across France and Germany may be able to benefit from free rail tickets this summer, part of a joint initiative to strengthen ties between the two countries.

France and Germany announce 60,000 free train tickets this summer
A 2019 photo at the Gare de l'Est railway station in Paris showing a French SNCF's INOUI high speed TGV train and a Deutsche Bahn (DB) ICE high speed train. (Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP)

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.

READ MORE: France, Germany firm up ties as European ‘driving force’

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.

READ MORE: OPINION: Why Germany’s €49 travel ticket is far better than the previous €9 ticket

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.

READ MORE: Planes, trains, and ferries: The new international travel routes from France in 2023

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. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Unscheduled stop: Baby born aboard high-speed train in France

Travellers on a high-speed rail service train in France experienced an unusual delay at a station at the weekend -- while a fellow passenger gave birth to a baby boy, local media reported.

Unscheduled stop: Baby born aboard high-speed train in France

The pregnant woman began to feel contractions shortly after taking her seat on the Paris-Strasbourg train, run by German rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

She alerted staff and the train was held at the Lorraine TGV station in the eastern French town of Louvigny to allow a medical team on board which then delivered the baby, the Republicain Lorrain said.

The other passengers were asked for patience during the birth of the baby boy, Felix, which took just over 80 minutes.

Felix was “a little premature”, the paper noted.

Mother and baby were taken to a nearby hospital by the local firefighter service, which reported later that both were doing well.

The Republicain Lorrain said that everybody was now wondering whether the German rail operator would send a birth gift, or grant its youngest passenger free trips on the network.

French public transport services have a history of providing such gifts. In 2018, after a baby was born on an RER Train in Paris, the child was offered a free Navigo pass until his 25th birthday.

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