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Luxembourg’s free public transport to be extended across French border with new commuter scheme

Luxembourg was the first nation worldwide to offer free public transport to all
Luxembourg was the first nation worldwide to offer free public transport to all Copyright Armand Khoury via Unsplash
Copyright Armand Khoury via Unsplash
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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A new scheme will see French commuters able to get to their offices in Luxembourg without charge - and it offers environmental benefits too.

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Luxembourg is famous as the only country in the world to offer free public transport - and now it’s set to expand its reach.

Since 2020, all buses, trains and trams have been free of charge throughout the micronation and a new pilot scheme will offer commuters who live in French municipalities bordering Luxembourg the same benefits.

The service, which will operate during peak hours in the morning and evening, will extend to thousands of commuters who live in France and work in the Grand Duchy.

Currently, commuters can only take advantage of Luxembourg’s free transport when they reach the border, which means they must switch to paid transport to get back to their homes in France.

View from above: A railway crossing in a small town in Luxembourg
View from above: A railway crossing in a small town in LuxembourgJohny Goerend via Unsplash

As a result of that issue, six French communities located near the Luxembourg border have come up with a workaround.

They’re banding together to offer a free shuttle for workers making the journey into Luxembourg.

The pilot scheme will initially run for six months - and it’s not only a positive for the commuters themselves.

It’s also set to lessen traffic on the road linking both countries, meaning it will offer environmental benefits too.

“Road traffic has increased tenfold while the road network has not been modernised,” Roland Balcerzak, mayor of the French region of Hettange-Grande - one of the municipalities involved with the plan - told online newspaper Luxtimes.

How did the scheme come about - and how will it work?

The project is the collective brainchild of a community called Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environs, which is made up of six municipalities.

They’ve estimated the cost of the scheme will be around €730,000.

The free French-side shuttle will collect commuters from the six areas, and drop them off in Mondorff, right on the border.

The commuters will then have to cross the border on foot, arriving at Mondorf-les-Bains, in Luxembourg.

From there, they’ll be able to take a trip on the Grand Duchy’s free public transport network to their final destination.

More than 120,000 French workers make the daily commute to Luxembourg - but there have long been criticisms that the transport links between the two countries are not as sophisticated as they should be.

The scheme is the first in a number of changes set to improve the situation.

Free to use: The interior of one of Luxembourg's public trams
Free to use: The interior of one of Luxembourg's public tramsGabor Koszegi via Unsplash

Last year, both the French and Luxembourg governments agreed to increase train services to run every 10 minutes between the city of Metz in France and Luxembourg City by 2030.

There are also plans to extend Luxembourg City’s tram service to reach all the way to the French border.

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The commuter scheme will likely be music to the ears of environmental activists.

While Luxembourg was the first European country to make tickets free for commuters and foreign tourists alike, it had failed to encourage people to switch away from cars.

Last year, Herwig Schuster, transport expert for Greenpeace’s Mobility for All campaign, told Euronews Travel that the enterprise was too limited.

“People typically go from Germany to Luxembourg, from Belgium to Luxembourg and still use the car because it's not really helpful if they don’t pay for the Luxembourg section,” he said.

More than 200,000 people commute in and out of Luxembourg meaning they still need to buy a ticket for a neighbouring country - but the French venture will likely ease the issue going forward.

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