51

In the Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai, there have been proposals to extend the Lille metro across the border into Belgium. Although those proposals have been shelved for cost reasons, I wonder: does any binational metropolitan area have a mass rapid transit system extending into both countries?

NB: I'm specifically thinking of metro/underground/subway/lightrail/tram, which are inherent to urban areas. There are many international bus systems both in cities and rural areas and buses do not need any particular infrastructure.

  • 23
    Not really an answer, but the Berlin system during the cold war had sections where West German passengers passed through stations under East German territory. – user16259 Jan 3 '18 at 14:46
  • 6
    @user16259 I'm aware, Berlin was a special case of a "binational city" though. – gerrit Jan 3 '18 at 14:49
  • 5
    The Detroit Subway has 3 lines going into Windso--wait, which Earth am I on? – Harper Jan 3 '18 at 18:27
  • 5
    TER train from Nice (France) via Monaco (outside EU) to Ventimiglia (Italy)? – Jukka Suomela Jan 4 '18 at 0:53
  • 7
    Do particle accelerators count as rapid transit systems? – Andrew Grimm Jan 6 '18 at 1:43

13 Answers 13

83

Yes - the Basel tram system is mostly in Switzerland but extends into both France and Germany.

enter image description here

There are five stations in France and three in Germany.

  • Nice one! Looks like the extention into France is very recent. – gerrit Jan 3 '18 at 14:53
  • 5
    @gerrit, not quite, line 10 (previously line 17) actually runs through France (with a stop in Leymen) before going back into Switzerland (in a different canton). The line was added to the BLT tram network in 1986 (it was previously part of the BTB). – jcaron Jan 3 '18 at 16:38
  • 5
    I think @gerrit was referring to the extension of Line 3, which used to terminate maybe 20m short of the border. The map indicates the extension opened in Dec 2017. Walked into France from the old terminus to get a much cheaper meal (2013). – Andrew Lazarus Jan 3 '18 at 18:19
  • 2
    @JonathanReez Yes, but things are actually no different now from then. There never were fixed (if any at all) border checks in such obscure places as Leymen, and even at fixed checkpoints checks were only selective. The main difference between now and then is that passport stamps aren't issued at all since Schengen – Crazydre Jan 4 '18 at 10:52
  • 1
    @jcaron "Line 8 was extended into Germany in 2014 (before Switzerland joined the Schengen Area)" Switzerland joined in 2008 – Crazydre Jan 6 '18 at 19:11
37

When it comes to rail, there are three that I can think of:

  • [ÖØ]resund. The Malmö-København binational area is linked by a rail and road bridge. Both the Swedish and Danish railway companies operate trains on this line. The interconnection is complicated by the fact that Swedish trains ride on the left side, Danish on the right side.

  • Strasbourg-Ortenau Eurodistrict, which has cross-border trains: S-Bahn Ortenau + TER Alsace. A PDF with the regional transit map is here. You can see that e.g. bus no. D (in green) connects the two train stations of Strasbourg and Kehl across the river Rhine which separates Germany and France.

  • San Sebastián metropolitan area, which extends to Hendaye, France. One of the lines of Metro Donostialdea terminates at Hendaye's SNCF train station (station Hendaia). Hendaye is too small to have an urban tram/metro system, but is a big train hub.

  • 8
    I'm no sure if I would count the trains on Öresund as mass rapid transit as opposed to intercity (commuter) trains. Those trains extend for hundreds of kms. The Donostialdea metro clearly meets my criteria, though :) – gerrit Jan 3 '18 at 15:00
  • 1
    Sure. But if you don't have a car and need to commute, the train's the only solution. And that's the main use of that bridge, as many Danes moved to Malmö and still work in Denmark. – user67108 Jan 3 '18 at 15:03
  • 1
    @gerrit No, the Öresund trains doesn't really meet your criteria. But there are/have been discussions about extending the Copenhagen Metro to Malmö, so the current situation is perhaps quite similar to the one in Lille/Kortrijk. Similar city sizes and similar distance. – jkej Jan 3 '18 at 17:02
  • 1
    Actually since the completion of Citytunneln project, Swedish trains run on the right when they're south of a flyover about 5 km NE of Malmö. – Henning Makholm Jan 3 '18 at 20:30
  • 2
    Mandatory XKCD: xkcd.com/1196 – DJohnM Jan 6 '18 at 6:42
19

The S-Bahn in Salzburg, Austria extends to Berchtesgaden and Bad Reichenhall in Germany.

12

The Hong Kong MTR subway trains connect to the Shenzhen Metro at Luohu and maybe other stations now. The trains do not go between them, but the border (sorry, "boundary") runs through the station. I think that's about as close as you will get in places with a "hard" border ("boundary"), unlike much of Europe.

It was possible to take the S-bahn in Berlin between West and East Germany. I recall a lot of barbed wire at the physical border. The frontier formalities were (IIRC) as you left the station into East Germany.

  • 2
    Although with the price difference between the two, it doesn't feel like it's part of the same transit system. – martin Jan 4 '18 at 2:46
  • About Berlin: yes. I took the U-Bahn and crossed at Checkpoint Charlie. Underground there were a couple of closed up stations, and you emerged in a big station that was split up in two. Immigration was done in claustrophobic booths, the officer way up high above you. The visa was a piece of paper. Once you came out on the other side you were in the other half of the station hall, and could change D-Marks against O-marks at black-market rate. – user67108 Jan 4 '18 at 10:03
  • In HK, the one example that could work is the Kowloon-Guangzhou through-train, which crosses in Lowu/Luohu, and serves a few stations in the Mainland. Lots of commuters use it. However a "binational" system it is not :-) – user67108 Jan 4 '18 at 10:05
  • @dda How are border checks carried out on that train? – Crazydre Jan 4 '18 at 10:55
  • On that line, HK exit/entry checks are done by HK immigration in Hung Hom station, HK. PRC entry/exit checks are done by China Immigration in the train stations served by this line. – user67108 Jan 4 '18 at 11:00
12

The (planned) Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System is perhaps an interesting example outside of Europe. It appears to still be in the planning stage, but at least it seems to be decided that it will be built. According to the plans it will be opened in December 2024.

  • It is still in planning stage (as of early 2018). However, the Malaysian rail system currently already extends into Singapore. (There is also a high-speed rail system being planned between Malaysia and Singapore, separate from the Rapid Transit System.) – Heng-Cheong Leong Jan 4 '18 at 6:21
  • The Malaysian raikway system currently terminates at the Singapore border checkpoint and the Malaysian immigration checkpoint is located next to the Singapore immigration checkpoint (both in Singapore ) and you have to go through both. I wonder what the immigration procedures will look like when they do extend the systems mtiple stations across the borders. – Erwin Bolwidt Jan 4 '18 at 7:03
  • It used to go to the other side of singapore - and it got a little strange at times at the old tanjong pagar station – at one point you you actually do malaysian customs and immigration at tanjong pagar... then do singapore customs and immigration at woodlands, when leaving singapore – Journeyman Geek Jan 4 '18 at 15:08
11

The city buses in Strasbourg France extend into Kehl, Germany. The Tram Line now extends into Germany as well.

  • 2
    I'm thinking of rail transport though. There's plenty of bus systems around the world that extend into neighbouring countries, both in urban and rural areas. Even US/Canada has those in Detroit-Windsor with the tunnel bus. – gerrit Jan 3 '18 at 14:48
  • 2
    See edit. The Tram line now goes to Germany as well (it didn't last I was there) – Daniel Jan 3 '18 at 14:52
  • @Daniel: AFAICT, there was already a tram line joining Strasbourg and Kehl between WW2 and the sixties. – Eric Duminil Jan 3 '18 at 21:42
11

TiLo

TiLo - Treni Regionali Ticino - Lombardia (Canton of Ticino - Lombardy regional trains) runs international lines between Canton of Ticino and Lombardy:

  • S10 Como (IT) - Lugano (CH) - Bellinzona (CH)
  • S30 Malpensa airport (IT) - Luino (IT) - Cadenazzo (CH) (currently limited to Cadenazzo - Luino due to improvement works)
  • S40 Como (IT) - Mendrisio (CH) - Varese (IT)
  • S50 Varese (IT) - Mendrisio (CH) - Lugano (CH) - Bellinzona (CH)
  • RE10 Milano (IT) - Como (IT) - Lugano (CH) - Bellinzona (CH) - Erstfeld (CH)

S-services stop in all stations, RE (RegioExpress) is a "fast regional" train. Bellinzona, Como and Varese are connected to Mendrisio without change every 30 minutes.

In the future S30 will terminate at Gallarate and S50 or S40 trains will take its path to Malpensa airport.


Vigezzina / Centovalli

SSIF (Italian) and FART (Swiss) run allstops and panoramic trains between Domodossola (IT) and Locarno (CH) in a (I think) unique arrangement: two completely independent companies (often knowing almost nothing about the other one's plans...), but tickets emitted by one of them are valid on both (you could take an A/R ticket from SSIF, doing the first trip with FART and coming back with SSIF), and no cash flows between them.


Rhätische Bahn

Rhätische Bahn runs regional and touristic services between Tirano (IT) and Sankt Moritz (CH).


MI.CO.TRA.

ÖBB (Austrian railways) and FUC (Udine - Cividale Railway) run in partnership MI.CO.TRA. regional trains from Villach to Udine through Tarvisio border.


Alto Adige Mobilità / Südtirol Mobil

Trenitalia and SAD run regional services between Austria and Italy on routes 100 (Innsbruck (A) - Bolzano (I) - Trento (I) - Verona(I)) and 400 (Lienz (A) - S. Candido (I) - Brunico (I) - Fortezza (I)). Timetables on Alto Adige Mobilità / Südtirol Mobil site


Tende railway

Trenitalia runs regional trains between Piedmont, Alpes-Maritimes and Liguria (Fossano (I) - Cuneo (I) - Tende (F) - Ventimiglia (I)). Due to Piedmont railway ineptitude from 2010 onwards, few trains runs along this route.


Other italian "international" services

  • BLS runs trains between Brig (CH) and Domodossola (IT). Some come from Bern (CH), the Swiss capital. This is a somewhat fuzzy international service, because Domodossola is a border station (with customs), so the line is formally in Swiss, but there are 18 km and 3 stations in Italy before the actual border (and Piedmont region pays for Domodossola - Iselle service).
  • Trenord runs S11 Milan suburban line between Chiasso (CH) and Milan (IT). However in Chiasso station there are "formally Italian tracks" S11 terminates on, so formally S11 trains never enter Swiss.
  • Turin SFM line 3 runs till Modane (F), but again Modane has "formally Italian tracks".
  • Rhätische Bahn is a regular intercity/intervillage train company, not mass rapid transit / urban rail. Same for BLS. – gerrit Jan 4 '18 at 15:21
  • @gerrit Where do you draw the line between intervillage and suburban rail? fahrplanfelder.ch/fileadmin/fap_pdf_fields/2018/330.pdf BLS connects town few km aparts (Ladden - Eggerberg is 1.6 km, Varzo - Iselle is 4 km), much like TiLo's Chiasso - Balerna (4.5 km) or Mendrisio S. Martino - Capolago (3 km). If, OTOH, you choose frequency as main discriminator, again TiLo S30 has the same frequency as BLS Spiez - Domodossola. – Astrinus Jan 4 '18 at 15:47
  • Typically metropolitan area mass rapid transit systems are centred on a major city or cluster of major cities, with people commuting into those. Many are city owned. BLS, Rhätische Bahn, and others are really just regular train companies which happen to have a lot of stops. There's nothing unusual about local trains in border areas. Certainly regular trains have a commuter role in urban areas as well, and certainly there are border cases such Cercanias/Rodalies in Spain/Catalonia, but I do think there is a conceptual difference between, say, RER and Rhätische Bahn. – gerrit Jan 4 '18 at 16:21
  • @gerrit That's an interesting example, in Paris, RER are actually regular trains very similar to the regional trains going around Paris ("Transilien").Unlike the metro, they have overhead power and drive on the left and the network was historically created by connecting trains lines ending on each side of Paris. – Relaxed Jan 6 '18 at 9:25
8

Expanding on the Basel Tram Network quoted in another answer, Basel also has a suburban rail network (Region S-Bahn Basel) which spans 3 countries: Switzerland, France and Germany.

Regio S-Bahn Basel map

The main railway station (Basel SBB) has a part that is considered to be in France for customs (and previously immigration) purposes, with regional TER services to Alsace. Some regional services going to Alsace now leave from the regular SBB tracks (including S1).

Even better, the Basel Badischer Bahnhof if actually a station operated by german DB, with regional trains operating from there.

  • Line S1 is CH-FR.
  • Lines S6 and RE are CH-DE.
  • Lines S5 and RB are DE only (if you indeed consider Basel Badischer Bahnhof to be in DE).
  • All other lines are CH only.
  • 2
    That's a very beautiful map for a transit map! – gerrit Jan 4 '18 at 15:18
  • "The main railway station (Basel SBB) has a part that is considered to be in France for customs (and previously immigration) purposes" For what it's worth there are still fairly frequent immigration checks when entering Switzerland there – Crazydre Jan 4 '18 at 18:47
  • @Coke immigration? Are you sure they're not french customs agents trying to prevent you from taking suitcases full of cash to Switzerland? There should be no immigration checks, and Switzerland hasn't invoked the "exceptional circumstances" for temporary border controls. France has, but they're usually more concerned about people entering than exiting... – jcaron Jan 5 '18 at 0:04
  • 1
    @jcaron I'm 100% sure, as I live in Switzerland and regularly cross by bus (and have taken the train to Basel a few times). Switzerland does not give a toss about Schengen at the land border, and will check visas and Schengen stamps as well (as it's an internal Schengen border). France, however, rarely ever performs checks when entering from Switzerland – Crazydre Jan 5 '18 at 0:07
  • @gerrit: As far as I can tell, it can be done with GMT. – Eric Duminil Jan 8 '18 at 10:19
5

If including urban rapid transit and commuter trains but not regional trains, some examples are:

  1. Basel tram, reaching Weil am Rhein in Germany and St-Louis in France.
  2. Basel S-Bahn, reaching Lörrach in Germany.
  3. Zürich S-Bahn, reaching Lottstetten, Jestetten and Waldshut in Germany.
  4. RER Geneva, reaching Bellegarde in France.
  5. Tilo, reaching Milan and Malpensa airport in Italy
  6. Salzburg S-Bahn, reaching Berchtesgaden and Bad Riechenhall in Germany
  7. The shuttle train between Singapore and Johor Bahru (Malaysia)
  8. Milan subruban rail, with line S11 reaching Chiasso in Switzerland.
4

The S11 of the Milan suburban rail service goes to Chiasso, Switzerland.

  • 2
    Chiasso is border station: there are "Italian railway tracks" in Chiasso station which are formally in Italy (IIRC platforms 1 and 2) – Astrinus Jan 4 '18 at 8:58
4

A small historical note that in Berlin there used to be S-bahn (and probably other) links between East and West Berlin. This transport link was an active link between two different countries after the end of the Second World War and before the Berlin Wall went up and communications between East and West were restricted. - Now, of course, the links have been reactivated since the wall came down, but as East and West are no longer in separate countries the modern Berlin transport system is not relevant to your question.

  • IIRC (and I just checked on Wikipedia), the East ran the S-bahn (surface rail), while the West ran the U-bahn (underground / subway). I don't know the details, but during the cold war, apparently some S-bahn trains on some routes would go through West Berlin territory, but not stop at West Berlin stations. – Peter Cordes Jan 5 '18 at 12:24
  • @PeterCordes At some point before the cold war got really serious it stopped at East and West. Someone I worked with in Germany explained that his parents had gone from East to West Berlin on the S-Bahn and I suppose 'defected' and made new lives for themselves in the West. – tom Jan 5 '18 at 12:50
  • Even after the cold war got really serious, the S-Bahn lines in West Berlin were owned and run by the East German state railways (and for this reason not very popular with the West Berliners). It was only in 1984 that the western lines were transferred to the West Berlin transit agency. – Henning Makholm Jan 5 '18 at 21:18
  • 3
    @PeterCordes: For most of the cold war it was the other way around -- the north-south S-Bahn tunnel ran under East Berlin territory but both ends of it were in West suburbs, so the trains on it were all "West" lines and did not stop at the stations in the East, except for the interchange at Friedrichstraße. See "Ghost station" at Wikipedia. Early on there were some S-Bahn trains that ran non-stop through the Western sector between outer GDR termini and East Berlin, but that stopped when the Wall went up. – Henning Makholm Jan 5 '18 at 21:33
  • Some (particularly West German) people would argue that technically West and East Germany were the same country; East Germany was never fully acknowledged by West Germany. The status of Berlin was more complicated; France, the UK and the US maintained that it was part of neither Germany but held a special status under administration of these three countries plus the Soviet Union. One could consider each of the four "sectors" a "country" (making all local transit crossing borders), or none of them, making only traffic between (East or West) Berlin and the surrounding GDR border-crossing. – Peter A. Schneider Jan 7 '18 at 14:35
3

The Saarbahn connects Saarbrücken in Germany with Sarreguemines (Saargemünd) in France. There is also a bus line connecting Saarbrücken with Homboug-Haute (Oberhomburg), it was shortened recently because St. Avold does not co-finance it any longer.

3

While not multinational in the strict sense of this word, the Washington DC USA subway (Metro) covers 2 states (Maryland and Virginia) and one state-like entity (District of Columbia). The distribution of stations amongst the states is almost even.

I consider this urban multistate subway system very close to "multinational" as: 1. MD, DC and VA have different laws, including those covering mass transit. 2. Funding comes from each entity separate budget, approved by each state legislature. 3. WMATA governing board has representatives from each state 4. US states are more independent then similar subdivisions of other countries.

  • 3
    The most prominent example of this would be the transit system in New York/New Jersey. – JonathanReez Jan 4 '18 at 13:47
  • @JonathanReez and Connecticut. There is a commuter rail service into Manhattan operated by New Jersey (NJ Transit), which I assume you were thinking of, with a few lines being jointly operated by NY (Metro North) and NJ Transit. There is also as a separate subway system operated by the Port Authority (PATH). Connecticut also participates in the operation of Metro North; there are 38 stations there. – phoog Jan 6 '18 at 15:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.