Britain’s train companies will no longer be part of the Interrail and Eurail schemes which allow tourists to travel across Europe with a single pass.
Industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said its members will stop participating in the programmes because it believes the separate BritRail pass is “the best option” for visitors to Britain.
Interrail and Eurail passes entitle holders to travel across as many as 31 countries. The former are for European citizens, while the latter are for tourists from the rest of the world.
Eurail Group, which manages the schemes, ended the membership of Britain’s rail firms after they chose to stop selling Eurail passes.
Britain has been part of Interrail since its launch in 1972.
Buying a pass to explore Europe by rail was seen as a rite of passage for many young people until the dawn of budget airlines.
Passes purchased after January 1 next year will not be recognised by the country’s train operators, although their use on Eurostar services is not affected by the decision. So UK travellers will be able to use an Interrail pass from London and all over continental Europe. But visitors to the UK will need to purchase the separate BritRail pass to continue their journeys beyond the capital.
Rail expert Mark Smith, founder of Seat61.com, said the decision is “a backwards step” as it would put visitors off from going to destinations such as Edinburgh, York and Bath.
“They’ll be encouraged to see London and go back and enjoy their free travel elsewhere,” he told PA.
“So it’s bad news for the regions.”
Travelling with an Interrail pass was previously seen as a “rite of passage”, he said.
“I used it in the 80s when I was in my late teens. You buy a pass and you explore.
“Although we now have budget airlines, you can’t travel on the surface having the same experiences if you use air.”
RDG director of nations and regions Robert Nisbet said: “The rail industry boosts British tourism and working together, rail companies are offering the best option for tourists with BritRail, which is recommended by Visit Britain, offers two for one deals on 200 attractions across the country and includes the convenience of mobile tickets.
“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.”
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