Express change: LNER's decision sped the turnaround
Express change: LNER's decision sped the turnaround

UK to remain in Interrail scheme after U-turn

After an express turnaround, rail guru says: ‘Many, many people young and old will appreciate this for years to come’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 08 August 2019 16:10

With a U-turn that arrived quicker than many trans-European trains, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has decided to remain part of the unlimited rail travel schemes, Interrail and Eurail.

On Wednesday, the RDG announced that it was terminating its participation in both programmes. UK train operators had been trialling the Eurail scheme, which is open to people living outside Europe. The RDG wanted to remain within Interrail but not Eurail.

There were claims that train operators preferred to market the UK-only BritRail pass worldwide, and felt that the Eurail product eroded revenue – because only a fraction was passed to UK operators.

The RDG blamed the Eurail head office in Brussels for the decision.

But rail campaigners, including the international trains expert Mark Smith – known as “The Man in Seat Sixty-One” – were incensed.

The decision would have meant British travellers could buy Interrail but enjoy the travel benefits only from London rather than their local station.

Conversely, European visitors to the UK would need to buy extra tickets to explore further than the capital, jeopardising tourism to regions and nations beyond London.

Within 24 hours of the decision, LNER – the nationalised operator which runs the East Coast main line – had broken with the RDG’s decision. David Horne, LNER’s managing director, said: “We will continue to accept customers using passes as part of the Eurail and Interrail system.

“LNER is proud to encourage people to travel with us and visit the many locations along our route.

“LNER recognises the value of international tourists wishing to visit the many popular destinations in England and Scotland served by the train company.” Shortly afterwards the RDG tweeted: “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.”

Mark Smith said: “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.”

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