European Parliament to consider free Interrail passes for all 18 year olds, plus ferries for Maltese
Next week, the European Parliament will debate an initiative to give all teenagers living in the EU a free Interrail pass on their 18th birthday.
And for countries such as Malta that are not part of the Interrail connection, such as Malta, Cyprus Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the birthday present will be augmented with other modes of transport free of charge under the scheme, such as ferries or buses.
Under the initiative, all EU citizens or legally residing individuals would receive a pass as soon as they turn 18, which they can use to travel the vast railway network connecting most major cities throughout the continent.
A month-long Global Interrail pass currently costs €479 and allows customers unlimited train travel through 30 countries within that period. It is particularly popular with recent school leavers and those taking gap years before university.
MEPs will vote on the proposal, which has been drawn up by German MEP Manfred Weber, chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament.
“Such a programme would give the opportunity to all young people regardless of their social and educational background to discover Europe diversity, and promote Interrail travel as a pragmatic way to reduce carbon foot print,” the proposal, tabled last Thursday (27 September) says.
It adds, “The mobility of young people is essential in promoting a sense of belonging to Europe, enhancing social cohesion and ensuring a competitive European economy. It is, however, not yet widespread, despite the success of the Erasmus, Erasmus+ and related programmes.
“Meanwhile, populism and the spread of misinformation is one of the biggest threats currently facing Europe. In this context, young generations have a key role to play as a counterweight, and the European Union must give them the means to discover who their neighbours are and what opportunities other member states can bring to each and every European.
“The European Union has heavily invested in railway infrastructure, with this accounting for up to 30 per cent of total investment in some member states, and rail-oriented funds will grow from €23.4 billion to €29.9 billion for 2014-2020, making the Interrail network an example of European success for citizens.
“Against this backdrop, would the Commission consider taking the initiative of launching a new programme entitled ‘18th birthday Interrail pass for Europe’, which would entail granting any European (citizen or legally residing) a free Interrail pass when turning 18, and looking at the possibilities of engaging the appropriate funding to make it fully operational as soon as possible, in close cooperation with the railway companies and the member states?
“For the member states which are not part of the Interrail network (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta), the programme would cover the cost for other means of transport, such as a bus or ferry, to reach the nearest member state in the network.”