Metropolitan RER: prospects and challenges for border territories!

April 2024

Metropolitan RER: prospects and challenges for border territories!

On April 10th, 2024, the MOT working group on ecological transition held its 6th meeting, organized in partnership with "Objectif RER Métropolitains". It was an opportunity to put exchange with seven speakers who shared their experiences and expertise, and to generate strong interest with over 70 participants.

At a time when a lot of news focuses on the SERM* law, seven metropolitan RER projects have been identified out of the twenty or so being considered or developed by Objectif RER Métropolitains. The MOT therefore wished to investigate the cross-border implications of these projects: what cross-border perspectives are envisaged? What are the border challenges and success factors?

An initial presentation by Jean-Claude Degand, spokesman for Objectif RER Métropolitain, outlined the issues involved in deploying metropolitan RERs in France, which is lagging behind some of its European neighbors (Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc.). Twelve key points for the success of metropolitan RER projects were presented, focusing on three areas: offering an attractive rail service; developing multimodal projects; and devising governance, management and financing adapted to the challenges of metropolitan RERs.

On the basis of these elements, an overview of RER projects on the French borders was given, highlighting their cross-border prospects and the challenges faced by local players:

  • SERM Azur (Marion Pellegrini, Région SUD)
  • RER Basco-landais (Anne Cousi, Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine)
  • REME Strasbourg (Julie Bocerean, Région Grand Est)
  • SERM Lorraine - Luxembourg (Julie Bocerean, Région Grand Est)

Discussions demonstrated the complexity of projects, particularly in their cross-border dimension, and the need to adopt a cross-border perspective from the outset in order to grasp the legal, technical, governance and financing challenges.
The third segment presented a number of completed projects, drawing on the experience of the players involved:

  • Basel Trinational S-Bahn (Claudia Demel, Agglo Basel)
  • Léman Express (Benoît Pavageau, Canton of Geneva)

These testimonials highlighted the keys to success: anticipating cross-border needs and challenges, the importance of including players from both sides of the border in project governance, and technical issues such as ticketing and infrastructure compatibility.

Mathieu Bergé, Vice-Chairman of the MOT and Regional Councillor for Nouvelle-Aquitaine in charge of European territorial cooperation, stressed the importance of taking into account the cross-border dimension of SERM projects, drawing on the experience of the Basque-Landes RER on his territory.

Finally, the sequence concluded with a presentation by the MOT on the lessons learned in terms of mobility from the “cross-border living areas” experiment, notably in terms of fare harmonization and integrated ticketing on cross-border lines, or the experimentation of cross-border financing mechanisms for the latter.

Following this meeting, Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière and Objectif RER Métropolitains would like to issue a joint statement calling for better consideration of the cross-border perspectives of cross-border RER Métropolitains projects.

* Metropolitan Regional Express Services.

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