FRENCH president, Mr Emmanuel Macron, has asked transport minister, Mr Clément Beaune, to pursue the idea of introducing a monthly pass, or “Passe Rail”, modelled on Germany’s Deutschlandticket.

Passe Rail would offer free travel on all TER regional trains as well as government-supported Intercités long-distance services and urban transport throughout France for €49 a month, and would be available to passengers of all ages.

Supporters of such a pass point to the complex nature of the current season ticket system, as well as the potential for encouraging modal shift and growing use of the railway network.

Beaune met most of the presidents of the regions of France at a local government congress on September 27 and subsequently announced that the government would discuss the project’s operational and financial details with them.

A decision on how to proceed is expected by the end of this year. Beaune would like to be able to at least conduct trials with some form of the new pass from next summer, but there are many hurdles to cross.

In particular, the regions that organise and fund public transport including TER regional rail services are asking for the government to commit to providing additional finance for rail infrastructure. They also want a review of the track access charging regime, and an assessment made of the need for additional rolling stock.

In addition, the president of the Île-de-France region centred on Paris, Ms Valérie Pécresse, has asked for the capital’s public transport network to be treated as a special case.

A monthly season ticket for the whole region currently costs €84.10, although most employers currently meet half of the cost. French authorities are also working on a single support mechanism for all public transport fares in France.

For his part, Beaune has said that “the state will of course put its money where its mouth is” and provide additional funding, stressing that the idea is to build on the discounted fares initiatives that have been introduced by some French regions.

“What the Occitanie region is doing is great, the same goes for Brittany, what has been done for Intercités is good, but it has not been put together,” Beaune said.

“The idea is not to take something away from someone or to withdraw these offers but to do better, all together."