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 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.
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.— Rail Delivery Group (@RailDeliveryGrp) August 8, 2019
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.
Despite this not being related to leaving the EU & even though it doesn't primarily impact on UK citizens, 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! https://t.co/0KI8vG7rqs— Rt Hon Grant Shapps (@grantshapps) August 8, 2019
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.”