Update: the UK will now remain part of the Interrail scheme following a u-turn! Read more about it here.
Today, Rail Delivery Group – the representatives of UK rail operators – announced that they would be leaving the Interrail scheme on 1st January 2020. The UK has been a part of Interrail since 1973, but will be no longer.
What does this mean for UK residents?
There’s a slight impact. You can definitely still buy an Interrail pass – that won’t change – but you won’t be able to use your Interrail pass to get to the Eurostar or an airport on your day of departure/arrival. You will still be able to use your pass to get on the Eurostar, with a valid reservation.
All Interrail passes purchased before 31st December 2019 will still be valid for travelling on UK trains until the end of the pass’ validity period.
What does this mean for European residents?
The only change for European residents is the lack of access to the UK beyond London. You can still use your Interrail pass to get access to the passholder fare on the Eurostar to get to London. However, any travel you want to do further afield in the UK will need to be covered at your own cost, either arranged privately or by purchasing the BritRail pass.
It also means you cannot directly access Ireland to Interrail, as there are no direct ferries running between Ireland and France. You would need to arrange your own transport to Ireland in order to Interrail around the country.
Interrail Planner, the planning tool specifically designed for Interrail trips, has over 50,000 users and has carried out research to examine just how many trips would actually be affected.
- Since 2017, 21,000 plans have been created on Interrail Planner by people from outside the UK – a decent sample size.
- Of those plans, 12% included a visit to the UK.
- Of the visits to the UK, 87% included a stay in London and 38% included a stay somewhere outside London.
- Therefore, 4.6% (38% of 12%) of Interrail trips taken by those from outside the UK could be affected by not being able to travel beyond London with the Interrail pass.