This case study report presents the business model for the cross-border public tram-train Saarbahn operating between the cities of Saarbrücken (Germany) and Sarreguemines (France). This report is part of a series of 31 case studies developed in the framework of the study ‘Providing public transport in cross-border regions – Mapping of existing services and legal obstacles’. Spatial Foresight in cooperation with TCP international, TRT trasporti e territorio and EureConsult completed this study for the European Commission’s DG REGIO.

The case studies highlight a variety of business models for cross-border public transport services. This includes governance arrangements and operational provisions to develop the service and address demand in border regions. These aspects will be introduced in section 2, as well as the territorial scope of the service. Section 3 presents key obstacles related to the business model as well as solutions. Section 4 is about lessons learnt from this case.

This case study covers: – the most long-standing symbol of Franco-German cooperation in cross-border public passenger rail transport; – a tram-train (Saarbahn) operating in a common cross-border settlement area, where the state border has not been an obstacle to people’s mobility for a long time (except during the COVID-19 pandemic); – a simple governance model for cross-border service provision by Saarbahn; – a good example for one-side driven cross-border tariff integration of the final destination on the French side; – bureaucratic obstacles and financial disputes, which can endanger the cross-border Saarbahn tram-train service even after a long period of operation (since 1997); – potential solutions based on different legal instruments (e.g. the French-German Aachen Treaty or a task-specific EGTC).

The main sources used for elaborating this case study were published documents and websites. The latter were particularly important so the case study adequately considers recent developments. Moreover, very valuable and complementary information came through an interview with the transport company operating the cross-border tram-train (Saarbahn GmbH). Finally, the case study evidence has also been cross-checked by Saarbahn GmbH.

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