UK to stay in Interrail scheme after U-turn

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UK train companies will stay in the Interrail scheme, reversing Wednesday’s decision, the operators’ group says.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents UK train operators, had said the arrangement would end in January following a dispute with Eurail Group which manages the scheme.

But it prompted a backlash, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps calling for a U-turn.

RDG said it had reversed course “following the strong reaction”.

“We are pleased to be able to tell passengers that we have reached agreement and will be remaining part of both the Interrail and Eurail passes,” said Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions.

The decision to pull out of the scheme had received heavy criticism on social media on Wednesday.

While continental Interrail travellers would have been able to travel as far as London, their passes would not have taken them any further.

British travellers would have been able to buy passes around the continent, but they would not have been valid on UK railways apart from in Northern Ireland and on Eurostar trains.

Mr Shapps tweeted: “It will make it harder for everyone else to explore the UK. A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE move in my view & I’m therefore calling on the RailDeliveryGrp to reverse their decision!”

Former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis tweeted: “This is closing Britain to the next generation of continental Europeans.”

The decision to restart talks and come to an agreement with Eurrail was greeted with relief by some on social media, but others were less complimentary.

Someone using the account name Kerr tweeted: “The fact you even considered it has caused severe reputation all damage for you.”

Others expressed doubt about RDG’s claim that it had “never wanted to leave” the Interrail scheme.

Dispute

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 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.

However, on Wednesday RDG said its membership of both schemes had been ended by Eurail Group after a dispute.

RDG had objected to Eurail’s decision to merge its two passes into one, fearing the new pass would clash with its own Britrail pass, which is also aimed at non-European citizens, covers UK rail travel and offers discounts on local tourist attractions.

Eurail disputed this, however, saying RDG had pulled out of its own choice after failing to “secure a competitive position for their BritRail Pass”.



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