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No more Interrailing in the UK from 2020 as British railways to pull out of scheme

And it’s got nothing to do with Brexit, rail companies said.

File photo. You won't be able to use an Interrail pass in the UK from 2020.
File photo. You won't be able to use an Interrail pass in the UK from 2020.
Image: Shutterstock/Paolo Paradiso

EUROPEAN TRAVELLERS WILL no longer be able to use Interrail passes in the UK from next year, with British railways no longer set to be part of the decades-old scheme.

British and European rail companies have pinned the blame on each other but both sides are saying it’s nothing to do with Brexit.

In fact, it won’t affect the UK at all as citizens there will still be able to buy Interrail tickets for countries around the continent. On the other hand, for example, an Irish person travelling around Europe on an Interrail pass will not be able to use it in the UK from 2020.

Passes bought in 2019 would remain valid, however.

The Rail Delivery Group – representing UK rail companies – said on Twitter that it was the decision of the Eurail Group – representing European companies – to boot Britain out of the scheme.

It said on Twitter: “The Eurail group has decided to end our membership from 1 January 2020, despite us wanting to remain part of the group. This is not linked to our membership of the EU.”

The Rail Delivery Group also promoted its BritRail pass, which applies specifically to travel in the UK, in announcing it would no longer be part of the Interrail scheme. 

However, Eurail said in a statement it “deeply regrets” the priority from the British rail companies is to promote its own scheme. 

It said it had done everything in its power to retain the British firms’ involvement in the Interrail and Eurail scheme, which is for non-EU citizens.

Criticism

The move was met with criticism in the UK, with former Labour transport secretary Andrew Adonis calling it “shameful” and “shocking”. 

“Shameful that Britain’s train companies will no longer recognise Interrail passes,” he said. “This is closing Britain to the next generation of continental Europeans, just as Britain is shutting itself off from the continent too.”

He also said Prime Minister Boris Johnson should have intervened to prevent this.

Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats Luisa Porritt said it “sends the message we are turning our backs on Europe”. 

Launched in 1972, Interrail passes were initially designed for young passengers but are now available for all age groups.

Interrail passes cost between €20 and €400 depending on how long they last and how many of the 30 participating countries they cover.

The EU planned two years ago to give all 18-year-olds free Interrail passes but derailed the scheme because it was too expensive.

However, thousands of free passes are made available each year

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Sean Murray

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