If you are under 27 and looking to travel between France and Germany this summer, you could be in luck.
60,000 free train tickets are being made available to young people for travel this summer and autumn – but be quick!
The rail scheme was announced by the two countries’ transport ministers, Clément Beaune and Volker Wissing earlier this year and has now opened for applications.
The goal of the initiative is to encourage travel and build a cultural exchange between France and Germany as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Elysée Treaty.
Beaune added that the initiative is also aimed at encouraging more young people to take the train and is in line with France’s climate ambitions. National rail services Deutsche Bahn and SNCF will financially support the scheme.
How can I get a free train ticket in France and Germany?
60,000 tickets have been released – 30,000 in France and 30,000 in Germany. They will allow young people to take the train to the other country and then travel around while they are there – much like an Interrail ticket.
Under 27s living in France and Germany can apply and those lucky enough to receive tickets will be able to choose a 7 day period for their visit.
The tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those in France can register through the French site and those in Germany should use the German site.
You must be able to show proof that you’re a resident in either country but you do not need to be a citizen.
Once you’ve completed the registration form, if there are tickets remaining, they will be emailed directly to you. The pass is valid for travel between 1 July and 31 December 2023.
How do the free train tickets work?
The ticket allows you to travel freely around the other country. The is no requirement to enter and depart the country using the same city.
It’s important to note however, that the tickets don’t cover travel around the country you live in.
For those travelling in Germany, the ticket gives you access to all German trains, including ICE high-speed trains. However, if you want to reserve a seat, you may need to hisse an extra €4.
If you’re taking a TGV train to France, you can reserve a seat in person at an SNCF station. Alternatively you could opt to cross the border using a regional train in order to avoid the reservation fee.
New train routes are planned between France and Germany
Wissing and Beaune also announced that a new TGV train route between Paris and Berlin is due to start running in 2024. Currently, a trip between the two capital cities requires travellers to change at a separate station such as Cologne or Frankfurt.
The new high-speed link would allow passengers to make the journey in around seven hours.
A night train linking the cities is also being introduced later this year.
The transport ministers said the new routes were just another step towards establishing a single rail network across the two countries.
France’s other steps to encourage train travel
France is taking the climate crisis seriously, at least when it comes to transport.
In December the government announced a ban on certain short-haul flights.
In 2024 SNCF plan to launch new low-carbon trains on their TGV services.
The country is also partnering with Ireland to launch a combined train and ferry ticket to travel between the two countries without taking a flight.