EU moves 'one step closer' to free Interrail tickets for 18-year-olds

MEP Brian Hayes has welcomed approval of a pilot scheme of 20,000 tickets

EU moves 'one step closer' to free Interrail tickets for 18-year-olds

View of signs on the glass facade of Berlin Hauptbahnhof (central station) in the Mitte district of Berlin. Picture by: Sascha Steinach/DPA/PA Images

A Fine Gael MEP says the EU has moved 'one step closer' to providing free Interrail tickets to all EU teenagers on their 18th birthday.

Interrail tickets allow passengers to use Europe's various rail networks for set amounts of time, and is a particularly popular travel option for older teenagers and young adults.

Campaigners have raised the idea in recent years as a way of bringing the European community closer together and fighting Euroscepticism.

The prospect gained traction last year when members of the European Parliament & Commission started discussing the idea.

Earlier this year, officials indicated the plans could be rejected over logistical issues and the potentially high cost of the scheme.

However, the European Parliament has now voted in favour of funding a €12 million pilot project for next year, which will see 20,000 tickets offered.

Fine Gael's Brian Hayes says he 'fully supports' the project, which could be expanded in 2019.

He argued: "Europe needs to reach out to a younger generation. Europe badly needs to dream again and celebrate the common bonds that tie us together. We need to move on from the failure of Brexit.

"We need to invite young people to travel across Europe - their European Union and experience the idea of unity through diversity."

While passes are available to all EU citizens, cheaper passes are available for young people between the ages of 12 and 27.

The one-month pass typically costs €493, although cheaper tickets for shorter periods of time are also available.

Currently around 300,000 people a year buy some sort of Interrail pass to travel around the continent.