FRENCH transport minister, Mr Clément Beaune, led a competition held on February 7-8 to select parties to develop a concept for a national public transport ticket, which he hopes could be introduced across France by 2025.

There were more than 70 responses to the request to join the hackathon to create the “transport ticket of tomorrow,” with 10 finalists whittled down to two winners: France Moov’ and Carte LEM.

Among the participants in the event were major transport operators such as RATP of Paris and French National Railways (SNCF) as well as student groups.

The French Transport Innovation Agency (AIT) will now study deployment of these solutions and trials could start in several regions by the end of this year. A working group will also liaise with the French regions, which manage local transport including setting fares, to explore implementation.

The French government is funding the development phase of the project.

In an interview with French news outlet 20 Minutes, Beaune noted the media attention that Germany’s €49 ticket has received, describing the introduction of a single public transport ticket that simplifies the lives of users as the “real revolution.”

“The single ticket makes it easier and we know that the easier public transport is to use, the more it is used,” Beaune says. “You also facilitate intermodality, the use of several means of transport during a single trip.”

Beaune added that before launching the competition he was told it could take 10 years to introduce such a ticket in France, but that he is convinced the project can be competed within the next two years.

Competition leads to fall in fares

Trenitalia began operating its Paris - Lyon Frecciarossa service in competition with SNCF in December 2021. Photo: David Haydock

Meanwhile, in a review of rail passenger trends in France in 2022, Trainline reports that competition is impacting the cost of rail fares.

For example, fares fell by 8% on the Paris - Lyon route since Trenitalia began operating on December 18 2021. The average fare is now €42 compared with €46 in 2021. Between Paris and Milan, the average fare has fallen by 17% to €65 compared with €72 in 2021.

Use of overnight trains increased by 149% compared with 2021. Trainline reports that passengers are increasingly seeking to use the train but there are still not enough direct services to satisfy demand. Berlin and Milan were most often requested, neither of which are currently served by overnight trains from France after services were withdrawn in recent years, although there are now plans to relaunch services to both cities.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular destinations from Paris were the major cities of Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Marseille and Rennes. Demand for trips to Grenoble, Orléans, Marseille, Amsterdam and Aix-en-Provence all increased by around 300%.

Trainline says that with only Orléans less than three hours from Paris, the data shows that passengers are increasingly happy to use rail despite longer journey times than by air.