Has the never-ending story of the “rail pass” come to an end? After the official agreement reached on April 3 between the regions and the Minister Delegate for Transport, Patrice Vergriete, the single ticket system for TER, Intercités and urban transport seems to be on track. Well almost…

Discussions have increased in recent days between representatives of the regions – most of whom are disappointed by the final form of the project – and a ministry still groping about its implementation.

On September 4, 2023, Emmanuel Macron was the guest of YouTuber Hugo Travers for a long program dedicated to youth. Asked about the German “D-ticket” and a possible French equivalent, the president said “banco”, as he recalled in a tweet published on April 3.

On paper, the idea is simple: for 49 euros per month, young people under 27 will be able to buy a single ticket at the beginning of June giving them access, from July 1 to August 31, to TER, Intercités and urban transport. , outside Ile-de-France. SNCF projections count on 700,000 sales. This is ten times more than the “TER Young Pass” offered in 2020-2021.

The only region excluded from the system this summer, Ile-de-France will however remain an arrival and departure destination. A TER departing from Paris to Lyon, for example, will be completely free with the “rail pass”. Same thing in reverse. However, it will be necessary to purchase a Navigo ticket to travel on Ile-de-France transport. According to the Ministry of Transport, this exception is explained by “technical difficulties”, “special ticketing” and “too short deadlines”. However, they confirm that if the experience is continued in 2025, the Paris region will be involved.

Taken as a model, the Deutschlandticket is more complete. Since May 1, 2023, the “D-Ticket” subscription allows any German to travel on the entire regional and urban networks, throughout the year, for 49 euros per month. A student version, at 29.40 euros, was released in spring 2024.

Nearly six months passed between the presidential announcement and its formalization on April 3 by Patrice Vergriete, the Minister Delegate in charge of Transport. The cause ? A new government and a “principle which seems simple on paper, but, in practice, [is] always more complicated”, summarizes Thibaud Philipps, responsible for the file in the Grand-Est region.

The “rail pass” aims to bring together the TER, managed by the regions, the Intercités, headed by the State via the SNCF, and the 170 urban transport operators spread across France. Made of back and forth and negotiations, the file is considered “very ambitious” by a newly installed ministry, which recognizes that several details remain to be “specified”, the fault of “too short deadlines”. On the ground, no one is fooled, like the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region: “It seems extremely complicated to put in place technically, especially for the beginning of June,” warns Renaud Lagrave, vice-president of the regional council.

It is in particular this hasty implementation that the Normandy, Hauts-de-France and Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes regions have pointed out. Until the end, the regional presidents negotiated compensation for the shortfall, estimated by the SNCF at 15 million euros over two months. The State will assume 80%, the regions 20%.

Contacted, the ministry, the SNCF and the regions are still groping. Even if it is in a digital form that the “rail pass” will see the light of day, the points of sale remain to be defined: SNCF Connect, Trainline or Kombo… “Everything depends on their IT developments, and their links with the different operators and regions,” specifies the ministry to Le Monde. Once purchased, this unique ticket will be nominative. Reservations should remain compulsory on the transport concerned.

What about controls? Will you need to provide proof of identity to prove your age? Ministry response: “We don’t know yet. » Same feedback regarding the calendar: will the title be valid from the 1st to the 31st of the month, or adaptable depending on the day of purchase?

Now it remains to convince young people to buy the “rail pass”. The executive admits that he “has not yet thought about” his communications strategy. Reaching this audience, however, seems essential to the sustainability and expansion of the system.

Yes. First technically, the idea simplifies a system currently designed on a case-by-case basis: each of the thirteen French regions has its own offers and advantageous rates for its TER, particularly for young people.

Simplification also on prices which vary according to region. For example, in Centre-Val-de-Loire, a 20 euro per year card reserved for 12-25 year olds halves the price of coach and TER tickets. In Normandy, an offer of 30 euros per year gives access to the network for a quarter of the price on weekdays and half on weekends, with no age limit. In Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes as in Hauts-de-France, reductions of 50% on local TER tickets and beyond are offered to under 26s. But when it comes to unlimited travel cards, prices systematically soar above 100 euros per month.

Each city also offers its own urban transport network (metro, tram, bus or ferry) with varied prices. All should be standardized (and free) with the “rail pass” in your pocket.