The government announces the implementation of the Rail Pass, a subscription accessible to everyone for unlimited travel on TER and Intercity trains. A good idea modeled on Germany, but with some limitations.
“ It has to be simple, that French people, whatever their age, can buy this pass and travel on Intercity or TER trains unlimitedly for a single price.» This is how Clément Beaune, Minister for Transport, spoke about the Rail Pass this morning on Telematin .
What is the Rail Pass?
Announced by Emmanuel Macron on Monday September 4, the Rail Pass aims to become a subscription allowing unlimited train travel on the TER and Intercités lines, like the Deutschlandticket in Germany. During his interview, Clément Beaune added that this subscription would work “if possible with buses, metros, trams in our big cities“.
The idea would both reduce car use, in order to reduce CO2 emissions linked to our daily travels, but also make the most distant suburbs more accessible. A rather laudable idea if ever there was one, as we have just experienced the hottest summer on record and the rail network is one of the levers allowing us to reduce our carbon emissions according to the IPCC.
At present, the price of 49 euros is advanced since it is the one practiced in Germany. The minister delegate nevertheless specified that this has not yet been definitively fixed, the regions having to be consulted. He nevertheless promises a ticket “cheap“, “around what the Germans did», to be put in place next summer.
The limitations of such a Pass
In Germany, theDeutschlandtickethas already attracted more than 11 million people, 23% of whom say they have abandoned the car. A result that makes us dream and allows us to imagine a possibly greener world, and less centered around the individual car, even if it is electric.
Maintenance and financing
However, the picture is not perfect. This new load on the network obviously requires very special maintenance and the State and the Länder (the regions) are passing the buck. In the absence of clear funding, the quality of service could significantly deteriorate and push travelers to turn to other modes of transport… such as the car, for example.
It is already rumored that the German ticket could slowly increase to 59 euros, then to 69 euros by 2025. Enough to amortize the cost a little, estimated at 3 billion euros per year until 2025.
In France, critics are already being heard: “the President of the Republic often has good ideas, but above all he must stop having good ideas with the money of local authorities», criticizes the vice-president of the Hauts-de-France region. To reassure, Clément Beaune specifies that the State should, as in Germany, bear 50% of the cost of this idea.
However, although the government has announced an investment of 100 billion euros in rail, the financing of this project has not yet been detailed.
Oars to review
In addition to the investment in the price of the ticket, it will also be necessary to take into account the maintenance of the tracks, as well as the modernization of certain trains. However, a large part of the TER fleet in France (48% in 2022) still runs at least partially on diesel. The ecological interest, compared to an electric car, is therefore reduced.
SNCF’s goal is to phase out diesel by 2035 and achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
What about long journeys?
The question also arises for long journeys. This Rail Pass only concerns TER and Intercités, it excludes TGVs. Keeping a car available for vacation trips could encourage some users to prefer their personal car rather than daily public transport. A subscription, possibly divided into several levels, allowing access to the entire rail network, would undoubtedly be even more effective.
Still, the idea is going in the right direction and it presents itself as an important step in the ecological transition. Hoping that the announcement effect is not nipped in the bud and that the project is supported over time…
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