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‘Affordable and simple’: What foreigners in Germany want to see after the €9 ticket

As the final month of Germany's €9 ticket offer is underway, we asked readers what the government should bring in to replace it. Here's what they had to say.

Passengers wait on the platform at Berlin Hauptbahnhof.
Passengers wait on the platform at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Of all the measures brought in to tackle rising energy costs in Germany, none has created such a stir as the €9 ticket. 

The prospect of nabbing nationwide travel for less than €10 a month has got people excited about public transport again – so much so that the government is now under pressure to replace it this autumn.

When The Local conducted a survey last month, a whopping 85 percent of readers told us they’d love to see a new discounted ticket once the €9 ticket ends in September.

Just five percent said they wanted the cheap travel to be discontinued, while around 10 percent weren’t sure.

Graph on views on €9 ticket Germany

Source: The Local

Several people also said that the ticket had impacted their lives in positive ways, from saving some cash to getting out and about more in their local area.

I’d love to see a successor to the €9 ticket supported,” said 26 year old Asa from Hamburg. “It’s given me the chance to explore the surrounding towns in a way that would otherwise be financially unviable. Not only that, but I’m getting out and spending money in the city far more often too.”

For 45-year-old Julie in Freiburg, a continuation of the ticket would make a drastic improvement to her and her children’s everyday lives.

“I’m a single mum with two teenagers,” she explained. “It could help us travel more often and visit places, which is very important for my kids’ education.”

READ ALSO: Has Germany’s €9 rail ticket been a success?

Four out of five respondents also told us they’d used public transport more often since the introduction of the €9 ticket, and a number of people said they had decided to leave their car at home when going on trips this summer.

The local reader survey on transport

Source: The Local

Bethany in Kaiserslautern said she had replaced at least six long-distance car journeys with public transport in June and July, and plans to take the train rather than the car on a visit to Munich later this month.

“Before, the cost of taking a train wasn’t worth it. But now? I’ll put up with delayed trains for €9,” she said. “Trains were delayed and broken before the €9 ticket, but with trains being so much cheaper now the hassle is worth it.”

For Bavaria resident V. Milhauser, a cheap transport deal could facilitate an even longer term switch to eco-friendly transport.

“As a retiree, I find a reduced pass allows me to sell my car and use public transportation exclusively,” they said. 

‘The key to success is simplicity’

When considering alternatives to the €9 ticket, almost half of our respondents said price was the most important thing, but a third said the flexibility and simplicity of the ticket was their biggest priority.

With the current deal, people can travel on local and regional transport anywhere in Germany with just a single ticket at a set price.

Many readers said they appreciated a few months of no longer navigating complex zones and tariffs and would like to see a similar system continue.

“It gets confusing about what kind of ticket one should buy for certain trips, so having one ticket that covers all routes regionally, at a reduced cost, is the perfect solution,” said Saarbrücken resident Melvin Chelli.

Another reader from Wehrheim agreed with this assessment: “The key to its success is simplicity and that it can be used throughout the whole of Germany,” they said.

READ ALSO: What happens to Germany’s €9 ticket at the end of August?

Public transport priorities graph

Source: The Local

For around 17 percent, a better service and infrastructure were key to successful public transport, while just one respondent valued punctuality the most. 

“I think that the federal government needs to invest more in public transport and that it needs to be more affordable and attractive to the general public,” said 33-year-old Sara, who lives near Rostock. 

“Even before the tourist season and the €9 ticket, another car was needed on the train from Bad Doberan to Rostock. Now they’re stuffing people in and everyone’s like sardines.”

Klimaticket or €29 ticket? 

Though the Transport Ministry is waiting to analyse the impact of the €9 ticket before deciding on its successor, that hasn’t stopped transport companies and other stakeholders weighing in with ideas for the future.

So far, a ‘Klimaticket’ costing €69 per month has been suggested by transport operators, while members of the Green Party have floated the idea of a €29 ticket and others have suggested an annual ticket costing €365 – just €1 per day.


Of these options, by far the most popular among our readers was the idea of the €29 ticket, with 53 percent of people saying this was their preferred option. Around a quarter wanted to see the €365 annual ticket, while others were keen on funding transport entirely through taxation.

transport deals graph reader survey

Source: The Local

Keshav Prasad, 33, from Aachen, said he wanted to see a cheap deal a continued in a way that would be sustainable for both individuals and the government.

“Reduced costs for transport is the need of the hour in times of record levels of inflation. It makes life a little easier for working class populations and also has a cumulative effect on climate as well,” he told us.

“I wholeheartedly support the idea and also recommend that it could even be the €29 ticket per month, so that the government isn’t massively burdened but there is also a cushion for the burden on passengers as well.”

Frankfurt resident Iain, 25, agreed that there should be a “middle ground” between the rock-bottom price of the €9 ticket and the prices before the deal was introduced.

However, others said they thought there should be a greater focus on long-distance travel such as the ICE trains and budget offers for commuters.

“I’m against reducing the cost of short-distance tickets: that costs too much and makes people use transport instead of bicycles (or walking),” said 45-year-old Dmitry from Munich.

Despite the differences of opinion, however, everyone agreed that continuing to invest in public transport in Germany would have numerous positive affects on both the climate and congestion.

“You don’t have to be a hippy to see it: even without thinking about global warming, water wars and climate migration apocalypse, the savings from the health sector, due to fewer pollution-related diseases, would be astronomical,” said one reader from Cologne. 

Will it hurt the automobile sector? Frankly, who cares. They had their fun for long enough, and we’ll be dealing with the consequences for a long, long time.”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey. Although we can’t include all the responses, we do read all of them and really appreciate you taking the time to share your views with us. 

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Yes, train travel across Europe is far better than flying – even with kids

Hoping to do his bit for the planet, perhaps save some money and avoid spending any time in airports, The Local's Ben McPartland decided to travel 2,000km with his family across Europe by train - not plane. Here's how he got on on and would he recommend it?

Yes, train travel across Europe is far better than flying - even with kids

Summer 2022 has seen the return of people travelling across Europe en masse whether for holidays or to see family, or both.

But it’s also seen chaos in airports, airline strikes and more questions than ever about whether we should be flying at all as Europe bakes under consecutive heatwaves caused by the climate crisis.

But are there really viable alternatives to travelling 2,000 km across Europe in a short space of time – with young kids?

The predicament

We needed to get from Paris to Portugal, or to be more precise the western edge of the Algarve in southern Portugal, for a week-long family holiday.

We didn’t have that much time to spend travelling there and back so the dilemma was how could we get there, fairly quickly?

“We” in this case being a family of four including two children aged 5 and 7, one fairly easygoing mum and a dad (me) who increasingly comes out in a rash when he goes near an airport.

Normally we’d have flown – as we did when we went to the same region of Portugal in October – but the stories of airport chaos, delays, cancellations, strikes and never-ending queues around Europe at the start of the summer made the prospect of taking the plane far less appealing.

Then throw in the climate crisis and the growing feeling that we, as a family, need to make an effort for the cause.

So the thought of flying, during what forecasters say was one of the hottest Julys on record in Europe and as rivers dried up and wildfires burn, just didn’t feel like an acceptable option – to me anyway – when there are alternatives.

There was the option of driving from France to Portugal, as many French and Portuguese nationals living in France do every summer. But driving nearly 2,000 km there and back for just a week’s holiday with two kids strapped in the back for hours on end would have been asking for trouble – either a breakdown or lots of meltdowns.

So that left taking the train. But would it be viable?  Would something go wrong as my colleague Richard Orange had warned on his own rail trip across Europe with kids this summer?

READ ALSO: What I learned taking the train through Europe with two kids

Planning the route

With the help of some really knowledgeable European rail experts like Jon Worth and information from the excellent The Man in Seat Sixty-One website we looked at the various rail routes through France and Spain to southern Portugal.

One problem was the line from southern Spain to the Algarve no longer runs which meant the best we could do was get to Seville and then hire a car.

At one point the best option looked like a night train (fairly cheap with a whole cabin reserved for the family) down to the Pyrenees (Latour-de-Carol) and then a local train to Barcelona before onwards travel to Portugal.

But in the end we settled on the direct train from Paris to Barcelona, spend the night in the Catalan city before taking the train the next day to Seville and picking up the car.

READ ALSO 6 European cities less than 7 hours from Paris by train

It would be mean Paris to Portugal in two days – or to be precise 7 hours to Barcelona, one night in a hotel, before a five-and-half-hour train journey to Seville and a three-hour car journey. It was the quickest way without flying, as far as we could see.

We were about to book the tickets when friend who was travelling by rail through Europe mentioned the Interrail option.

I did Interrailing as an 18-year- old and it was a great way to spend a month travelling around Europe (and Morocco) but had never thought it could be an option for a quickish trip to Portugal and back.

But Interrail has changed a bit since 1996 and indeed since 1972 when it was first launched for under 21s.

Now it offers passes that can be used for 4, 5 or 7 days a month – perfect for travel to a few destinations in a short space of time.

And, this was the clincher – Interrail passes for under 11s are free if they are with an adult.

Well almost free, because in certain countries like France and Spain you still need to pay for seat reservations for anyone travelling.

But the cost of the passes for two adults, plus seat reservations were cheaper than just booking direct trains and much cheaper than flying (more on costs below).

The high-speed train from Barcelona to Seville. Photo: The Local

The Upsides

Let’s start with not having to wake up at 4am and arrive at the train station three hours before the train leaves just to check in a bag and then spend the next three hours queuing in various lines – bags, passport, security, boarding etc..

We arrived at Gare de Lyon around 30 minutes before the train left and boarded without queuing and the train departed on time.

Compare this with having to get a taxi or the RER train to Charles de Gaulle airport and then still find yourself in Paris three hours later as you queue to board. (I know this is not always the case but this summer the advice was to arrive three hours before your flight to check in bags.)

Plus there was no luggage limits on the train and no having to empty your bags at security because you left an old roll-on deodorant at the bottom of your bag.

Although rail stations in Spain do have airport style x-ray machines to check all luggage, they were very rapid and didn’t result in any long queues.

Add to this comfortable seats with leg room, a bar you can walk to and spend hours watching the beautiful French and Spanish landscape whizz by.

You arrive in the centre of town – in our case Barcelona – so there’s no need to get public transport or taxis to and from out of town airports. 

Spending a night in Barcelona was a great way to break the journey – albeit a bit expensive (see below).

And it all ran pretty much on time. Over five train journeys in four days we had 15 minutes of delay. Spain’s high-speed trains were fantastic.

To sum it up: when flying your holiday only really begins when you arrive at your final destination because these days the day spent travelling is one big headache, but with the train the holiday begins as soon as you leave the station.

It’s just far, far more relaxing.

heading back to Barcelona Sants station after a night in the Catalan capital. Photo: The Local.

The Downsides

But what about the kids, you say?

Yep this can be an issue. Travelling for 7 hours on a train is not easy with two young kids but if you come prepared and can think of 75 different ways to occupy them from drawing and playing cards to I-spy and “count my freckles slowly” then it’s possible the journey will be tantrum free. (Playing hide and seek on a train with 12 carriages isn’t advisable.)

And kids adapt, so the following day’s five and half hour journey from Barcelona to Seville was a breeze because they settled into the pace of life and by that point had worked out the code to get into my mobile phone.

One complaint was how long the TGV train took to get along the southern French coast. Does it really need to stop at Nimes, Montpellier, Beziers, Agde, Sete and Perpignan? Can’t local trains serve these stations and the TGV just head straight to Spain?

Another little gripe was the train food. Whilst buffet cars on SNCF and Renfe trains are great for a coffee or a beer they don’t really offer a selection of healthy meals, so you need to come prepared. We weren’t and spent a lot of money on crap food and drink during the trips.

But if you know this in advance you can bring whatever you like onto the train, with no nonsense about 100ml limits on liquid.

Cost comparison

Working out cost comparisons are hard and anyone looking to do a similar trip will need a calculator at hand. 

It’s hard to do a direct comparison between flying and taking the train because so much depends on what the prices are when you book, the route you want to take and how quickly you want to travel and whether to go first class or standard.

But for us at the time of booking (roughly two months in advance) flights from Paris to Faro were about €1,500 for four people, train tickets booked directly with SNCF and Renfe (not interrail) for four people were around €1,200 (this probably could have been much cheaper further in advance), whilst the Interrail option – 4 day passes plus seat reservations was around €810.

So on the face of it travelling by train, especially using Interrail passes, was cheaper – but then add on the cost of two nights in hotels in central Barcelona and there was no real financial benefit of going by train.

But then it was never all about money – what price on not having to spend three hours at Charles de Gaulle airport?

How easy is it to Interrail?

Interrail proved a great option for us, even though it was only a relatively short trip. It’s more suited to those looking to do multiple journeys through various countries, perhaps at a slower pace. But the kids being free was crucial for us, so other families should definitely explore the option.

The one downside to Interrailing through France and Spain is the requirement to book seat reservations for the high-speed trains.

Whilst this sounds fairly straightforward we couldn’t do it through the Interrail app or website so had to be done with Renfe directly. For most countries you can reserve seats through the Interrail app (more on this below).

With SNCF it required a lengthy phone call because we reserved the seats to make sure there were some available before getting the Interrail passes.

For Paris to Barcelona the reservations cost €34 for standard class seats or €48 for first class.

With Renfe it was more complicated although much cheaper (Around €10 to €12 a seat). We were told on the phone that to reserve seats with Interrail you have to do it either at a Spanish train station or by phone but only if you can pick up and pay for the reservations at a Spanish train station within a certain amount of time.

Neither of these were possible when booking from Paris back in May/June. But the helpful website Man at Seat 61 recommended going via the man behind the AndyBTravels website, who charges a small fee. A few emails were exchanged and our reservations for Barcelona to Seville arrived in the post a few days later. 

Renfe and SNCF could make it easier for Interrail passengers.

The Interrail mobile pass on the the Rail Planner app was very easy to use. It was just a case of adding the days when we were travelling and then adding the specific journeys.

This brought up a QR code for each trip but the ticket controllers were always more concerned about the seat reservations we had on paper.

But all went to plan.



Those days spent sitting drinking coffee, orange and beer (in separate cups) starring out of train windows at fields, hills, mountains, villages, beach and train platforms were part of the holiday.

I’d say that if you have a day or two to spare then travelling across Europe by train instead of plane is well worth it – yes, even with two young kids.

They might even thank you for it one day if we all help avert a climate disaster. 


It’s hard to give advice because each person has different requirements that need to be taken into account – whether number of passengers, time needed for travelling, destinations, cost etc.

But plan ahead and do the research to see what’s possible.

One bit of advice if you need to travel quickly is try keep connections to a minimum or give yourself plenty of time to make them.

My colleague Richard Orange had problems on his trip from Sweden to the UK via Denmark, Germany and Belgium because of delays and missed connections.

Useful links and extra info

You can explore Interrail pass options and prices by visiting the Interrail site here. The site offers plenty of info to help you plan your trip and reserve seats on trains if necessary.

The fantastic Man in Seat 61 guide to train travel across Europe is a must-read for anyone planning a trip. It has pages and pages of useful up to date info and can be viewed here.

It also has loads of information on how to use an Interrail pass and calculations to see whether it’s the best option – if you need help with the maths. The page can be viewed here.