Could Kleinbettingen train station become overwhelmed when public transport becomes free of charge starting 1 March 2020?
Photo: Matic Zorman
Rail operators abroad have revised their fares for when public transport becomes free in Luxembourg, but that won’t stop cross-border workers from driving to Luxembourg to take advantage.
Our sister publication Paperjam reported on Tuesday that starting 1 March, a monthly season ticket from Arlon to Luxembourg will cost €53, instead of €82, from Thionville €45.50 instead of €88, from Metz €100.50 down from €143, and between Luxembourg and Trier travelers will pay €49 per month instead of €85.
While the savings will be big for some, they could be even bigger if cross-border commuters simply drive over the border and take the bus or train, placing a strain on parking and other infrastructure. Kleinbettingen mayor Guy Pettinger was so concerned about the demand on their already saturated car park that he wrote to mobility minister François Bausch (déi Gréng). He has yet to receive a response.
The situation is similarly strained in Steinfort, which is served by bus line 222 and where, according to Pettinger, the P+R car park is at capacity by 7:30am each morning.
On the website freemobility.lu, the ministry said that the “situation will be evaluated in March 2021”.
Before then, however, a welcome hand may come from Belgium where MP Benoît Piedboeuf (MR) has secured an agreement for a car park in Sterpenich with a bus connection to Kleinbettingen station. It remains to be seen where this car park will be located. Two sites are being considered: the former customs post along the E441 Luxembourg-Brussels where 260 spaces are available. However, it will be necessary to provide parking space for lorries, an obligation in return for the Viapass kilometre tax. A second option is the Hondelange area, offering potential for 750 spaces. For this, lorries will have to be located further away from Steinfort-Kleinbettingen.
In Aubange, mayor Jean-Paul Dondelinger has long feared that the small station in Athus and its surroundings will become overcrowded with cars. The station is part of the CFL domestic network. And will therefore offer free transport even though it is located on Belgian soil.
This is also the case for two other stations in France: Volmerange and Audun. Volmerange mayor Maurice Lorentz said the station was less sought-after by commuters, because it requires a change in Bettembourg, and so the inconvenience outweighs any savings. This could, however, change if the bus from Dudelange to Kirchberg leaves Volmerange in future. According to Paperjam, a request has been made with an answer expected in May.