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Manchester, United Kingdom — 22-25 September 2009

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UK withdrawal from Interrail a grave step back for the environment and local economy

Aug 8, 2019

Press release
Leeds, UK – 8 August 2019

Interrail tour operator Euroventure explains the implications for the climate emergency, regional economies and rail tourists.

On Wednesday 7 August the UK’s train operating companies took the decision to withdraw from the Interrail and Eurail schemes as of 1 January 2020. Pass holders from the other 30 European countries that are part of the scheme today will no longer be able to use their passes to travel in the UK after that date. UK customers will still be able to buy Interrail passes and travel on the continent.

Philip Cabra Netherton, Managing Director of Euroventure, said: “This regrettable decision sends the signal that the UK train operating companies are more concerned about their own short-term profits than they are about the environment or the local economy, which is shameful and an embarrassment to the youth-driven rail movement across Europe. It’s also poignantly timed, since the UK opened its rail network to Interrail pass holders in the same year that it joined the EU.”

Euroventure is an interrail tour operator based in Leeds that provides rail holidays using Interrail and Eurail passes, packaged together with accommodation in hostels or hotels.

UK customers who booked with Euroventure for travel after 1 January will no longer be able to use their passes for free to get to London for onward connections to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. This concession to travel for free on the first day of validity of the pass, and again on the last day of the return leg, was only introduced last year and now will be revoked as the UK pulls out of the Interrail and Eurail schemes entirely.

Philip said: “This means it no longer becomes attractive to start European journeys in the UK by rail due to the high cost of buying train tickets in this country, compared to jumping on a cheap flight. It’s an unfortunate step backwards for the climate emergency at a time when the Swedish flygskam (flight-shaming) and tagskyrt (train-boasting) movements are gaining support across the continent”.

The withdrawal of the Interrail pass in the UK will also negatively affect inbound tourism outside London as foreign tourists will need to buy further tickets to leave the capital once they’ve arrived on the Eurostar. Philip said: “The official counter-argument by the Rail Delivery Group is that BritRail passes are still valid for travel in the UK – however for a rail tourist coming here from any corner of Europe this means purchasing an extra ticket just for one country, when they could travel to 30 others for free. This is arrogant and small-minded thinking driven by the desire to promote an alternative product, which diverts revenue to the UK train operating companies rather than sharing it with their partners overseas”.

Overseas customers who have already booked with Euroventure including a trip around the UK will not be affected by the withdrawal of the passes. Philip said: “We will honour the bookings that have already been made by our non-UK customers, but longer-term we will need to look at the pricing of the UK portions of our routes”.

“I would urge the train operating companies and the UK Transport Secretary to reconsider this decision for the sake of our future as a leading climate conscious country, and on behalf of the local economies outside London which will be impacted as a result”.

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