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Why public transport is free in Luxembourg

All public transport in Luxembourg has been free for residents and tourists since February 2020. It is not only a grand gesture, but also a decision dictated by practical considerations.

Luxembourg is a rich country. Its residents have more cars per capita than anyone else in the European Union. This causes traffic jams, and car exhausts poison the air. Free public transportation is designed to combat this: five more passengers on the tram means five fewer drivers on the road. And how to convince people to switch to public transport? Money (and saving it) is the best motivation.

Besides, public transport wasn’t profitable anyway. At the time it was made free, the proceeds from ticket sales did not even compensate for 10% of transportation costs. The remaining expenses were compensated by taxes. Therefore, nothing has radically changed.

Luxembourg is the first country in the world to completely abandon fares for public transportation on its territory.

What transport is free in Luxembourg

All public transport within the country is free. The list includes trains, buses, trams and even the funicular railway. Passengers only need to buy a ticket if they want to travel first class or board a cross-border train. There is no charge for luggage and pets either.

Nevertheless, taxi services are not free of charge in the country, and neither are some parking spaces for cars. If you have a personal vehicle, read more about parking in Luxembourg in our dedicated article: Parking in Luxembourg: types, prices and popular locations.

Free trains in Luxembourg

The Luxembourg Railroad consists of six lines with some branches. All lines start at the capital, go to different regions of the country and continue beyond its borders, while branches are usually dead-ends leading to relatively remote communities.

Trains in Luxembourg are divided into ordinary (RegionalBahn) and high-speed (Regional Express). Both types of trains run the same routes, only the express trains make less stops.

You don't need a ticket to ride a train, just get on and go. You can find train routes and schedules in the CFL mobile app.

Free buses in Luxembourg

The bus is the most popular form of public transport in Luxembourg. The bus network is more extensive than the rail network. Almost anywhere in the country can be reached by bus. More than 250 bus routes operate nationwide. Thirty-one of them operate in the capital.

Free trams in Luxembourg

Luxembourg has abolished trams around the middle of the last century. The tram service only resumed a few years ago. So now there is only one tram line in Luxembourg. It connects the Central Train Station (Gare Routiere) to Kirchberg. One to four more lines are planned to open before 2035. Of course, they will also be a part of the public transport network, which means that tram rides will remain free.

Free funicular in Luxembourg

Normally, the cable car is an attraction and/or the way to the ski slope. But the Luxembourg funicular is considered full-fledged public transport due to the terrain: it is the shortest way to get up to the Kirchberg Plateau or down from it to the Pfaffenthal district.

Do you need to pay for cross-border transport in Luxembourg

Yes, if you are going abroad, you will need to buy a ticket. Do not neglect it: the most expensive tickets cost no more than 100 euros, and the fines for fare evasion can reach several thousand euros.

By land, you can get from Luxembourg to the border countries: France, Germany and Belgium. The easiest way to cross the border is by train. The price of the ticket depends on the distance and the destination: tickets to major cities are more expensive.

How to get to France

The cheapest and fastest way is a second-class ticket to the border city of Thionville: half an hour and 3.90 euros. But getting to the capital will take 2.5 hours and will cost 66 euros. For comparison, a ticket to Strasbourg, which is located at the same distance, costs more than three times cheaper: 19.50 euros.

How to get to Germany

A ticket to the border city of Trier will cost 5.40 euros, and it takes an hour to get there. Getting to Frankfurt and Stuttgart will take 4.5 and 4 hours and cost 65 and 95 euros respectively.

How to get to Belgium

The trip to the border city of Arlon takes only 20 minutes and costs 4.60 euros. The 3.5 hour trip to Brussels costs 33.10 euros, and the 4.5 hour trip to Antwerp costs 43.50 euros.

Why trams, trains and buses in Luxembourg are free

Luxembourg is a high-income country with inexpensive gasoline. Free public transportation was an attempt to relieve traffic congestion on the streets by motivating drivers to travel by bus and train instead.

After more than three years of the experiment, we can say that so far it has not fulfilled its main task. Traffic congestion decreased during the covid restrictions, but a year ago it was back to pre-covid levels or even exceeded them.

Why free public transportation has not reduced the number of drivers

The financial motivation was too small. Luxembourg remains a country with large incomes and cheap fuel. And the authorities did not artificially raise fuel prices so as not to exacerbate the energy crisis.

At the same time, public transportation has not radically improved. Trains and buses work the same as before, trams and funiculars also started functioning before the free fare era.

A substantial part of the drivers in traffic jams are people who work in Luxembourg and live abroad. Public transportation does not help them because travel between countries is not free. Yes, these people can drive through the border, leave their car in a parking lot and continue to travel by public transport. But for them driving straight to work in their car is still very often preferable.

The result is expected to become more prominent when the government introduces additional measures: four new tramlines in addition to the existing one, a reform of the rail service, and dedicated lines for buses. Then being convenient and free will be a more convincing argument for choosing public transportation than just being convenient.

Paid transportation won't make much of a difference to the budget. If ticket prices are kept the same, they will still cover less than 10% of transportation costs. Currently, it is covered by taxpayers.

Although free transport has not yet fulfilled its practical purpose, it is a nice and true advertisement for Luxembourg as a social justice state, where everyone has the right to affordable travel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Is public transport free for everyone or only for Luxembourg citizens

    It’s free for everyone who legally resides on its territory permanently or temporarily. As well as tourists and visitors, and all people using public transport in Luxembourg do not need to pay.

    There are only a few exceptions: first-class travel and cross-border trips.

  • What do Luxembourg ticket inspectors check on public transport

    If you are traveling inside Luxembourg, the ticket inspectors will usually not check anything: they are there to keep passengers safe and informed.

    If you are traveling to or from abroad, or passing through Luxembourg, the ticket inspector will check your tickets sometimes. Make sure to have it on you, as there are hefty fines.

  • Is river transport in Luxembourg free

    No, because there is no public river transport in Luxembourg. Traveling along the river is entertainment, not a way to get to a certain location.

  • Do I need to get a free ticket for Luxembourg public transport

    No, you can just come and take a seat. Sometimes, if you are traveling from abroad and have to transfer to a station during your one-way journey, you can be issued tickets that cost 0 euros for part of the journey in Luxembourg.

  • Could it be that I don't have a seat in a vehicle

    Yes. In this case, you will need to wait for the next vehicle on your route or stand the whole trip. You can also book a seat on the train for a fee, using the First Class option. Keep in mind, that this will be a paid trip, and you will need to provide tickets to prove you can stay in your seat.

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