“Free day” for Luxembourg’s buses, trams and second-class rail will be 1 March 2020. Starting on that Sunday, only passengers travelling first class on trains will pay for public transport.
The date was announced by François Bausch, the minister of mobility and public works. In a tweet, he described the move as “the social cherry on the cake of a larger mobility strategy”.
Originally the Grand Duchy’s new coalition government had hoped to abolish fares in the summer of 2019. But the majority of current users pay for an annual season ticket, and it was deemed too complex to arrange proportionate refunds.
Instead commuters will be expected to plan their ticketing up to 29 February 2020 using a combination of annual, monthly and daily fares.
Luxembourg already has the cheapest public transport in Europe. Everyone under 20 travels free. An all-day ticket for every form of public transport costs €4 (£3.50), less than the fare for the six-minute journey from Victoria to Clapham Junction in London.
The nationwide flat fare of €2 (£1.75) is valid for up to two hours of travel, which in a nation the size of Oxfordshire covers almost any journey. First class rail costs €3.
The current structure of first and second class compartments on the railways will be retained.
Mr Bausch said keeping first class as a premium service would “continue to allow people who want to work on the train to do it serenely”.
The €3 ticket will be retained, while an annual pass for first class will cost €660 (£575).
Passengers will be expected to carry an identity document, which for British travellers will mean a passport.
The cost of scrapping fares is estimated at €41m (£36m) annually – a tiny sum compared with the €1bn (£875m) cost of running Luxembourg’s high-quality transport system.
The Grand Duchy is thriving economically, but has severe problems with traffic.
The number of workers who cross from Belgium, France and Germany to Luxembourg each day is approaching 200,000 – in a country with fewer than 600,000 people.
While cross-border trains from nearby towns and cities will continue to levy fares, they will be reduced in line with the proportion of the journey in Luxembourg territory.
The mobility ministry is pursuing a “no-emission” objective, with the introduction of an all-electric fleet of buses by 2030.
Free transport is a key policy of Luxembourg’s coalition, which comprises the centrist Democratic Party, the left-wing Socialist Workers’ Party and the Greens.
It is known as the “Gambia coalition” because the parties’ respective colours of blue, red and green match the Gambian flag.
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