British company makes U-turn on European Interrail passes after massive backlash

PUBLISHED: 11:01 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:01 09 August 2019

British rail companies will take part in Interrail after all. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/PA Images

British rail companies will take part in Interrail after all. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Just 24 hours after announcing that British railways would no longer be part of the Europe-wide Interrail scheme, the company behind the decision has done a u-turn in response to a major backlash.

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Rail Delivery Group (RDG) had announced that it planned to withdraw from the scheme, which allows passengers to take trains across 31 countries on a single ticket and which the UK has been part of since 1973. Instead, RDG wanted to promote a Britain-only scheme called BritRail.

MORE: Concerns for tourism and environment after UK rail companies pull out of European Interrail scheme

But following an enormous backlash, RDG has now issued a statement saying: "Following the strong reaction to news of our departure, we and Eurail, the company which runs Interrail, renewed talks.

"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."

The fracas had nothing to do with Brexit arrangements, as the schemes are run by private companies and Eurail, the company behind Interrail, had announced that Britons would still be able to access the scheme via its virtually identical Eurail ticket for non-EU travellers.

But commentators saw parallels between the spat and Britain's wider relationship with the EU.

"UK pulling out of Interrail isn't a result of Brexit, but it is Brexit in a nutshell," wrote Northumbia University prof Tanja BUeltmann on Twitter. "Instead of offering an inexpensive option for those wanting to travel Europe, utilising pan-European collaboration, British rail companies want to offer a much more costly BritRail pass alone."

Travel commentator Mark Smith, who runs the 'Man in Seat 61' travel blog, has now called the announcement "Fabulous news", adding: "This has really made my day. Hats off to RDG & National Rail operators for listening - many, many people young and old will appreciate this for years to come."

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