The UK will be removed as part of the Interrail and Eurail schemes, which allow passengers to travel around Europe on a single train ticket, following a dispute.
According to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents UK train operators, the decision to push it out of the system was made after a dispute with Eurail Group, which manages the Interrail scheme, and was not a result of Brexit.
Eurail is attempting to merge Eurail and Interrail tickets into a single pass covering both European and non-European travellers, but RDG has refused to sell the option because it clashes with its Britrail scheme, which also targets non-European citizens. The association claims offering both tickets would be “confusing” for passengers – something the UK rail industry wants to tackle through a fares reform.
RDG regional director Robert Nisbet commented: “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 2-for-1 deals on 200 attractions across the country and includes the convenience of mobile tickets.”
Eurail says RDG will no longer be a part of the scheme from 1 January 2020, meaning only Interrail and Eurail tickets purchased before 31 December this year will be valid for travelling on UK railways until the end of their validity period. Passes bought after 1 January will not cover travel within the UK.
Eurostar services are not affected by the decision and will remain a part of Interrail and Eurail, meaning passengers will still be able to travel from Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam to London and vice versa.
Nisbet claimed UK passengers will not notice any difference following the change because they can still buy an Interrail pass when travelling to Europe via Eurostar.
However, some have taken to Twitter to point out that leaving the Interrail scheme would discourage visitors entering the UK from Europe from travelling beyond London because rail journeys to other parts of the country would require a separate ticket.
RDG said it wants to work with Eurail to develop an offer whereby tourists can buy the Eurail and Britrail passes together.