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Germany: 49-euro ticket expected to launch in spring 2023

December 9, 2022

A dispute over who would cover excess costs had stalled the implementation of Germany's subsidized rail program. The ticket is expected to be available as soon as spring 2023.

A regional train rolls through Berlin's main train station
The 49-euro ticket would enable travelers to ride public transportation at a lower cost nationwide Image: Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's government and the heads of the country's 16 states reached a deal on Thursday to approve a popular low-cost public transport ticket plan, the so-called 49-euro ticket.  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose government had put forth the measure, hailed the talks, saying that the program can now be implemented "very quickly." 

The 49-euro ticket is the continuation of the 9-euro ticket, which was introduced by Scholz's government in the summer, in the wake of the Ukraine war, to incentivize people to use public transit and alleviate consumer costs amid high energy prices. 

The official budget for the 49-euro ticket follow up was estimated at €3 billion ($3.17 billion), with the federal government committing to cover €1.5 billion, while the states will cover the other half. 

Now that the agreement has been reached, the legal and organizational foundations for the low-cost rail scheme must now be laid out by state governments and transport companies.  

Scholz said he expected work "at great speed" to make it happen.   

Cost-sharing compromise 

The 49-euro ticket, rebranded to "Deutschlandticket" or "Germany ticket," was originally scheduled to start on January 1, but disputes over how to pay for it, specifically who would cover how much, had put the brakes on the project. 

While the federal and state governments had signaled they would share the total costs, the question of who would be responsible for the foreseeable additional costs had been unresolved. States and transportation unions had warned that these excess costs would push the actual price to €4 billion. 

At Thursday's meeting, both sides resolved the issue by agreeing to share the excess costs equally for the year 2023.  

What was unclear from the meeting was would happen in subsequent years, as it remained unclear if the cost of €49 ($52) per ticket would be maintained. The "exact fare structure" can only be clarified "after the experiences of the first year," Lower Saxony state premier Stephan Weil said. 

Expected to begin in spring 

The compromise was nevertheless hailed by who took part in it. North Rhine-Westphalia's state premier Hendrik Wüst said the group had achieved clarity in the talks, adding that the financing of the program was "now on solid footing."  

Saarland state premier Anke Rehlinger welcomed the subsidized rail program as "a major step forward in the mobility revolution — if public transport is expanded at the same time." 

Lower Saxony's Weil said he expected the ticket to be available to consumers "by the end of the first quarter" of 2023. 

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey said she did not expect the Deutschlandticket to be introduced in March or April.  

"It looks like it will likely to be May, but that now depends on the negotiations. I very much hope that it will succeed," she added. 

jcg/rs (Reuters, AFP) 

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