Skip to content
CityLab
Transportation

Why Germany Is Offering a Summer of Cheap Trains

In a bid to save fuel and speed decarbonization, Germany will offer travel aboard regional rail, bus and subways for just 9 euros a month. Will it work? 

A Regio regional passenger train operated by Deutsche Bahn AG travels on a bridge in Berlin. 

A Regio regional passenger train operated by Deutsche Bahn AG travels on a bridge in Berlin. 

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

When the German parliament approved a new measure this month slashing public transit fares nationwide for three months this summer, the move reflected the severity of the nation’s energy crisis. To reduce its heavy reliance on Russian gas and oil after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany is desperate to find ways to reduce its fuel consumption and push more drivers to take trains and buses. 

But while the German government’s decision to cut public transit costs was sparked by an immediate crisis, promoters of the summer transit windfall hope that the initiative can do more than just temporarily soften the blow of spiraling energy costs to consumers. It could offer a glimpse of what a lower-emission future might look like for Germans, who are being encouraged to permanently adjust their mobility consumption to less carbon-intensive modes.