Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Decision to end Britain’s Interrail membership reversed

The Rail Delivery Group said the U-turn followed ‘strong reaction’ to the decision to leave.

Britain’s train operators will continue to accept Interrail and Eurail passes (Danny Lawson/PA)
Britain’s train operators will continue to accept Interrail and Eurail passes (Danny Lawson/PA)

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Britain will continue to accept Interrail and Eurail train passes after a decision to end its membership of the schemes was reversed.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, said it renewed talks with Eurail Group, the company running the programmes, following “strong reaction to news of our departure”.

The two sides had previously blamed each other for the dispute, but were able to reach an agreement on Thursday to continue the existing arrangement.

Interrail and Eurail passes entitle holders to travel by train across Europe, visiting as many as 31 countries.

The former are for European citizens, while the latter are for tourists from the rest of the world.

Britain has been part of Interrail since its launch in 1972 and began a trial selling Eurail passes in January.

On Wednesday, the RDG said Eurail Group was ending Britain’s membership of both schemes because the country had stopped selling Eurail passes, due to its own BritRail ticket being “the best option” for visitors.

It insisted it “never wanted to leave Interrail”.

But Eurail Group managing director Carlo Boselli declared the RDG’s attempt to “secure a competitive position” for its BritRail pass had led them to “pull out” of Interrail and Eurail.

Britain keeps all the proceeds from BritRail purchases, whereas those from Interrail and Eurail are shared with other countries.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps appeared to agree with Eurail Group’s stance, describing the situation as “counterproductive” and urging the RDG to “reverse their decision”.

Until an agreement was reached on Thursday, passes purchased after January 1 next year were not going to be recognised by Britain’s train operators, although they would still be allowed on Eurostar services.

This led to fears that inbound tourists would visit London but then return across the Channel without seeing other parts of the UK.

Rail expert Mark Smith, founder of Seat61.com, described the U-turn as “fabulous news”.

He added: “This has really made my day. Hats off to RDG and national rail operators for listening. Many, many people young and old will appreciate this for years to come.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph