UK pushed out of Interrail scheme after dispute

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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.

But 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 by train and ferry, while the older Eurail pass lets non-European citizens to do the same.

Over the decades it has been a rite of passage for millions of mostly young tourists, although older people use the passes too.

RDG stressed British people would still be able to buy Interrail tickets and that the move had “no relation” to Brexit.

It also said 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 outside of Eurostar’s terminals in London and the South East will require a separate ticket, affecting both UK and non-UK citizens.

Currently, if a Briton buys an Interrail pass it includes a train to get them from home to the Eurostar and back again at the end.

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 decided to end its membership of Interrail/ Eurail after RDG declined to sell the new product.

RDG regional director Robert Nisbet said: “The rail industry boosts British tourism and, working together, rail companies are offering the best option for tourists with BritRail, which is recommended by Visit Britain [the UK’s official tourism promotion agency].”

Eurail said that all Interrail and Eurail passes purchased before 31 December 2019 were still valid for travelling on UK trains until the end of their validity period.

But it added: “As a consequence of RDG not being part of Eurail and Interrail, travellers who buy a Eurail or Interrail Global Pass in 2020 will no longer be able to travel in Great Britain.”

RDG said that it wanted to work with Eurail Group to develop an offer for tourists who want to buy the Eurail and Britrail passes together.