More than 2,500 Irish young people applied for 140 free Inter Rail passes

EU Youth Commissioner says the interest in the pilot scheme "has been enormous"

More than 2,500 Irish young people applied for 140 free Inter Rail passes

Picture by: Christoph Soeder/DPA/PA Images

More than 2,500 people applied for free Inter Rail - nearly twenty times the number of tickets available.

140 Irish 18-year-olds will receive free rail tickets as part of a new scheme to promote Europe to young people, with applications having closed earlier this month.

A total of 15,000 tickets are being offered across the EU in this summer's pilot scheme.

Another 10,000 tickets are to be made available in the autumn in a second application round, including a fresh allowance for Ireland.

Those who have successfully bid for a ticket in the first round will receive confirmation 'very shortly'.

Irish MEP Deirdre Clune said: "It is great to see so much interest from young people in the scheme and I would encourage the creation of more schemes like this.

"All the quotas of travel passes in each Member State was reached which shows how popular a scheme like this is."

EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics added: "The interest in this initiative from young people across Europe has been enormous, and I hope many more of them will make use of this travel opportunity later this year and beyond.”

The budget for this year's pilot scheme is €12 million, with EU politicians hoping to expand the programme in the future.

Those who receive a ticket will be able to travel to up to four foreign country destinations within the EU.