DiscoverEU poster, Source: European Youth Facebook page

Free Interrail passes for young people return in 2022

Free Interrail passes for young people return in 2022

The travel incentive plan will catch up for time lost during the pandemic

Earlier this week Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner of Innovation, Culture and Youth, announced to the European Parliament that free Interrail passes will be once again available to youngsters who have recently turned 18 and are itching to explore the great wonders of the Old Continent. 60 000 such passes will be made available to candidates, double the amount of previous years since they will cover people who turned 18 in 2020 and 2021, in order to compensate for the suspension of the programme last year.

This announcement is especially timely since it coincides with the European Year of the Rail – an initiative seeking to promote train travelling as a classic European sustainable mobility tradition. It is also seen as a way to provide a much-needed boost to the tourism industry which has experienced a major slump during the crisis.

The right kind of news for the European Year of the Rail

Formally, the free Interrail passes programme is known as DiscoverEU, and from now on it will be funded as part of Erasmus+, which means that it might be scaled up in the future to benefit more young Europeans.

As for eligibility requirements, these are fairly straightforward. The application process is expected to open in October for candidates who turned 18 in 2020 and 2021. They also have to be citizens of one of the EU member states. Likewise, their stated travel plans have to include at least one member state.

Once the deadline is announced candidates can submit an online application form on the European Youth Portal. The application will include 6 questions to be answered (5 of them are quiz-style). It is also possible to apply as a group of 5 people maximum.

The approved applicants will have to attend a pre-departure meeting, which is standard for Erasmus+ educational initiatives. After all the chance to travel and discover other countries is seen as a valuable experience.

The pass will have a duration of 30 days and can be used during the period March 2022 – March 2023 exclusively on trains (the only exceptions will be made for island inhabitants so they can get to the mainland).

The European Commission hopes that it will be able to encourage youngsters to explore lesser-known corners of the continent and thus help revive tourism where it is most needed.

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