UK pushed out of Interrail scheme after dispute
The UK’s decades-long membership of the Interrail scheme, which allows people to travel around Europe on a single train ticket, is to end.
From January 2020, UK rail journeys will no longer be covered by either the Interrail or Eurail passes, said Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents UK train operators.
It means ticketholders will have to buy separate tickets to get around Britain.
RDG blamed a dispute with Eurail Group which manages the Interrail scheme.
Many on Twitter reacted angrily, warning it would put off visitors from travelling beyond London.
Launched in 1972, the Interrail pass enables European citizens to travel around 31 countries – including the UK – by train and ferry. The older Eurail pass lets non-European citizens to do the same.
Over the decades Interrail journeys have been a rite of passage for millions of mostly young tourists, although older people use the pass too.
Rail Delivery Group stressed British people would still be able to buy Interrail tickets and travel around the Continent, and the changes had “no relation” to Brexit.
It added that Eurostar trains would not be affected by the decision, which means passholders will be able to travel from Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam to London and vice versa.
However, travel around the rest of the UK will require a separate ticket, affecting both UK and non-UK passholders.
Mark Smith, a travel writer and author of train travel blog the Man in Seat 61, said that inbound visitors to the UK would be most affected.
He said the additional cost of rail travel around the UK would put many off travelling beyond London, and they would miss out on tourist destinations around the country.
Some UK travellers are likely to suffer, as well.
Currently, if a Briton buys an Interrail pass it covers their train journey from home to the Eurostar and back again at the end. But that is set to end.
As one disappointed traveller Tweeted: “It costs me a fair few pounds to get from the Scottish Highlands to London.”
The exceptions here will be people who live near to the Eurostar terminals in London and the South East.
Northern Ireland will also remain in the Interrail scheme because it is covered by an agreement for the whole island of Ireland.
RDG said the dispute stemmed from a decision by Eurail Group, a Dutch organisation, to merge its two passes into one.
RDG said the new pass would clash with its own Britrail pass, also aimed at non-European citizens, which covers UK rail travel and offers discounts on local tourist attractions.
It added that Eurail Group decided to end RDG’s membership of Interrail/Eurail after RDG declined to sell the new product.