The InterRail Pass celebrates 40 years of cross-border rail travel this year.
The initial 20-country ticket was launched on the 1st March, 1972. It allowed students and young people under 21 to explore Europe by train. The launch marked the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the international railway union, the UIC – the Union Internationale des Chemins de fer.
Although originally a temporary idea to mark the UIC’s birthday it proved so popular that InterRail Passes have been in use ever since. The scheme has expanded to cover 30 countries.
Says editor Andy Milne, ‘There is no finer way to see Europe than by rail. I still vividly remember inter-railing as a student. Sharing garlic sausage with Yugoslav soldiers on a crowded train one day, helping an aged Greek woman retrieve two chickens on a rural parliamentary the next made for unforgettable experiences. The experience of arriving in a major capital like Berlin or Rome first thing in the morning is always memorable. I’d recommend it.’
To celebrate the anniversary the Eurail Group, which organises the scheme, has released the third edition of ‘Europe by InterRail’ which contains a special compilation of InterRail itineraries written by three train enthusiasts.
The InterRail Pass is now available for all ages. Last year over 248,000 passengers used the pass. Says Eurail’s Ana Dias e Seixas, ‘Whilst InterRail has long been associated with youths, it has clearly evolved into a product for everyone. Travel by rail is romantic, offering a sense of freedom and independence not associated with any other form of transport, and it’s this aspect which we hope will continue to appeal to a broad target group for the next 40 years.’