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Rail Pass: price, operation, criteria… Everything you need to know about this new system “tested this summer”

It’s official: the rail pass will finally see the light of day.

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Rail Pass: price, operation, criteria… Everything you need to know about this new system “tested this summer”

It’s official: the rail pass will finally see the light of day. After explaining on Wednesday morning that there would be "no rail pass this summer", the Minister Delegate for Transport Patrice Vergriete announced at the end of the day that an agreement had been reached at the last minute to bring this project to life. which will initially be tested for a period of two months, in July and August, and only accessible to young people under 27 years old.

On September 4, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron said he was “favorable” to the establishment of a monthly pass open to all to travel anywhere in France thanks to regional trains and Intercity connections. Led by the former Minister Delegate in charge of Transport Clément Beaune, the project was inspired by the existing package in Germany, at 49 euros per month, but could not be implemented by the State alone as it primarily involves the regions which finance regional trains and decide on fares. The initiative had therefore already been scaled back. The departure of Clément Beaune and the arrival of Patrice Vergriete at Transport during the reshuffle had marked the reduction of the rail pass “to those under 27” and “for the summer season only”. But what form will this reduced version take? Le Figaro takes stock.

Only young people under the age of 27 will be able to access this offer. To benefit from this, they will be able to acquire the rail pass on the SNCF website for the month of July or for the month of August, or for two consecutive months, depending on the choice of the person concerned. “Marketing will be launched from mid-June,” said the Ministry of Transport, which explains that it is not yet able to “communicate the precise details” of this sale. “We first managed the agreement of the regions, and the feasibility of the project (...) we will enter the operational phase, in order to decide on the modalities and be ready for mid-June,” continues the entourage of the Minister responsible for Transport.

As in Germany, the rail pass will be sold at the price of 49 euros per month, and will give access to all TER and Intercités trains, except those running on the network operated by Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM). Integration into the system of the Ile-de-France region and its “somewhat complex” Navigo package system will in fact prove impossible this year, Patrice Vergriete admitted. “To reach this agreement, the government showed itself willing to cover approximately 80% of the cost of the system, as assessed by the SNCF,” specified the ministry responsible for Transport, explaining that this amounts not only to take charge of “the share of the cost falling to the Intercités, “but also around 50% of the cost of the measure estimated for the TER”.

Unless otherwise indicated, all destinations served by TER and Intercités - that is to say 135 French destinations - can be accessible with this rail pass. With lines as emblematic as "Bordeaux - Toulouse - Marseille", "Paris - Clermont-Ferrand" or even "Paris - Orléans - Limoges - Toulouse". Intercity night trains will also be affected, like “Paris - Toulouse”, “Paris - Tarbes” or even “Paris - Nice”.

The only downside pointed out by the president of the Hauts-de-France region, Xavier Bertrand: there remains “justices”. To the extent, according to the elected official, that Île-de-France is not concerned, and that “young people from Hauts-de-France will be penalized” if they want to go there or cross it.

An injustice that the ministry sweeps away: the rail pass is an “unlimited pass” with which “it will be possible to take all TER and Intercités trains, including those which leave and arrive from Paris”. Concretely, it will therefore be possible to take an Intercités to Normandy from Saint-Lazare station for example.

“There is in fact a specificity for the Transilien network, which will not be part of the system because it is not accessible on the same platform as the other TER and Intercités trains (...) it would be much too complicated to put it in place this summer,” confirms the minister’s office.

A summer rail pass exclusively reserved for young people already existed in France in 2020 and 2021, put in place after Covid. At the time, it already concerned under-27s who, for 29 euros per month, could borrow any TER anywhere in France - except in Île-de-France -, but not the Intercités.

At this time, no one knows if the rail pass can be extended to everyone, and outside of just the summer months. On this subject, the Ministry responsible for Transport nevertheless assured that “as a continuation of this first stage and subject to the assessment which will be drawn”, the State was “ready to examine an extension of the system to the Island -de-France next year, in conjunction with Île-de-France Mobilités”.

“The objective is to gain momentum both over time and in the number of regions concerned,” concludes the minister's entourage, hoping “that in 2025, it will be possible to integrate the Island -of France". And to say: “We will see all that when we take stock, in September.”

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