Something to Declare: The column that gives the global picture
Buy your Inter-Rail ticket by next Thursday to beat the price rise
Saturday 23 February 2002
Bargain of the week: buy your Inter-Rail ticket by next Thursday to beat price rise
From 1 March, the cost of unlimited-travel train tickets in Europe goes up. Book before then, and you can secure the Inter-Rail pass at the old price for travel at any time this year. The three-zone pass currently costs £275 for travellers aged 26 or over, £199 for those under 26; these rise by £24 and £10 respectively.
One new option begins on 1 March: a 12-day, one-zone pass, ideal for people on a fortnight's holiday who fly out to Italy, France or Germany. Italy's zone includes ferries to Greece, plus unlimited travel on Italian, Slovenian, Greek and Turkish railways. France is linked with Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland. Germany is grouped with Austria, Switzerland and Denmark. Each 12-day pass costs £169 for those 26 or over, £119 for under-26s.
You can buy through travel agents, national rail companies or the Thomas Cook offshoot Rail Pass Direct (01733 402001, www.railpassdirect.co.uk).
Warning of the week: the most dangerous roads in Europe
The Czechs and the Greeks suffer from Europe's highest average death tolls on the roads, according to the latest OECD figures. The measure used is deaths per billion vehicle kilometres. In joint third place, at 16, are Belgium and France. In Greece, the rate is 26; in the Czech Republic, it is 36.
The UK has a rate of 8, while in Turkey it is 108.
Destination of the week: the business-class cabin
Airlines are cutting fares sharply for premium passengers from Heathrow, at least if you book through a discount agent such as Trailfinders (020-7938 3444, www.trailfinders.co.uk). Many of these deals are for connecting flights, eg London-Zurich-Hong Kong on Swissair for £1,465, which makes for a long journey. But there are also some non-stops on offer for far less than the official fares.
On the premier international route from Heathrow to JFK, Kuwait Airways will take you in a comfortable, alcohol-free environment for £776 return. To Bangkok, the Taiwanese airline Eva Air flies non-stop for £1,247. Dubai is served non-stop four days a week by Royal Brunei, for £1,037 – beating the lowest official Emirates fare by £1,400.
For higher-profile airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, ask agents for "IT" fares that package a hotel room with a low fare.
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