Baden-Württemberg offers free train trips, other benefits to U.S. troops on R&R
STUTTGART, Germany — The German government in the state of Baden-Württemberg is providing free train travel for Rest and Recuperation breaks to American troops visiting Europe or returning to their duty station from a Middle East deployment.
Vouchers for the one-day tickets are being distributed to rear detachment commanders this week, according to the Installation Management Agency-Europe.
“This is really a great gift from the German government,” IMA spokeswoman Millie Waters said.
One hundred vouchers will be available, and they will be good only in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which encompasses Stuttgart, Heidelberg and Mannheim. The tickets are good for the local, regional trains and not the ICE, EC and IC trains.
They will allow a person to take along free guests.
The Germans also have extended to troops free admission to dozens of museums, castles and other government-run tourist venues in Baden-Württemberg. Exactly how those tickets will be distributed is still being worked out, Waters said.
The president of Baden-Württemberg, Edwin Teufel, and his staff made the decision to offer the tickets last week.
Teufel has said the tickets would be good for entry to Heidelberg Castle, Schwetzingen Castle and park, Maulbronn Monastery, Residenzschloss Rastatt and Ludwigsburg castle.
In announcing the free tickets, Teufel, in a release, said the decision is underscored by the fact German citizens know that American troops are essential to preserving peace and freedom. He noted the accomplishments of the troops and the sacrifices they and their families have made.
American troops in Europe, both those coming back to their home base or only for R&R, have several discounted leisure options. In Garmisch, for example, the Armed Forces Recreation Center is offering heavily discounted rates to stay in its hotels and use its facilities.
To receive the free train ticket, a servicemember must provide the voucher with his or her military identification card at a Deutsche Bahn ticket office for a local train ticket or at a public transport office for a free ticket for buses and streetcars within Baden- Württemberg.
After the voucher is exchanged, the ticket can be used for a single person, a group of adults up to five people and a family with children under the age of 15. The day ticket is good from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. the following day. Also, once the voucher is exchanged, tickets cannot be changed or reimbursed. Pets are not included in the tickets but a pet does need a ticket, which is half the price of a regular, adult fare.
Waters said the IMA is looking for feedback about how the voucher system works. Comments can be sent to: email@example.com.
For more information and train connections, see http://www.bahn.de/pv/view/int.