Removing benefits

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

One of the significant holiday opportunities has been to buy an Interrail pass.

An Interrail Pass allowed travel throughout Europe even on the high speed tarins

Often thought of as a pass for students and backpackers who are aged in their twenties and below, that isn’t true. There are a number of categories. For those under 27, there is a 23% discount on standard fares; for those over 60 there is a 10% discount of those standard fares; children under 11 go free and, if you book before August 15th, there is 10% discount on top of those fares. But anyone can buy an Interrail pass.

And one of the great advantages for Britons is that the pass you buy includes free travel from anywhere within the UK to the Eurostar terminal at London’s St Pancras International. Whilst this is little for those living in the London area for those living in Scotland, Wales, the North and Southwest of England this is a substantial benefit. For example it can cost over £90 return on a supersaver from west Wales to London; over £100 from Edinburgh and over £150 from Oban whilst a ticket from Truro or Penzance would cost you about £100.

That benefit is about to be lost.

From January, you will still be able to buy an Interrail pass but you will have to pay to get to St Pancras.

Why?

Because the Rail Delivery Group, which is the authorised seller of these passes, has been removed from the membership of the organisation that markets Interrail, Eurail.

In a nutshell, because the RDG operates a Britrail pass it decided it wouldn’t want a competing product which is what the Interrail product is.

The RDG issued a misleading press release said, “Although the Eurail Group has ended our decades-long membership of Interrail since we stopped trialling Eurail passes, British people will feel no difference – they can still buy an Interrail pass, get the Eurostar and travel by train across Europe.”

The statement is true but highly misleading by its omissions. It doesn’t say that the Eurail Group wanted the arrangement to continue and it doesn’t say anything about Britons now having to pay the rail fare to St Pancras. There will be a difference and not just for Britons. Those travelling to the UK from Europe will now need to buy a Britrail pass or pay for the rail travel in the UK as they travel.

Given the strong tourism statement that the government issued in June, you might have thought the Department for Transport would oppose RDG’s decision.

Or will tourism be it incoming or outgoing still be treated with disdain despite its importance to the UK?

UPDATE: 8 August 2019 – The RDG has changed its mind and will not now withdraw from Eurail. Britons will continue to be able to travel to St Pancras as part of their pass and those coming into the UK will continue to trael anywhere in the Uk as part of the Interrail pass without having to pay extra to travel within the UK.

This change of heart is to be welcomed but the RDG now says that it never wanted to leave! Wherever the pressure came from to reverse the decision shows that someone has common sense after all.

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