The European Union will hand out thousands of free Interrail tickets to young people, so they can explore Europe by train again in 2022, as the 'DiscoverEU' programme is being relaunched.
Due to the pandemic, the EU was not able to distribute the passes in 2020, meaning the group of young people who turned 18 years old last year could not get a pass.
As the budget for 2020 was already secured by the European Parliament, it will also be used this year, according to Mariya Gabriel, the EU commissioner for youth.
"We are envisaging one mega-round of 60,000 travel passes, to be launched probably this October," she announced this week, adding that the 18-year-olds who were not able to travel in 2020 will exceptionally also be allowed to apply this year.
"So, we will have applicants who turned 18 last year as well as those turning 18 this year," Gabriel said, adding that there will be twice as many passes as usual.
The 60,000 train passes will be distributed among the Member States based on their population size, which means that Belgium is set to receive around 1,500 Interrail passes.
The selected participants will then be able to travel through several EU countries between March 2022 and March 2023, for a period of 30 days.
However, as the course of the coronavirus pandemic remains unknown, the EU exceptionally offers flexible bookings, flexible travel dates and routes, and an extra provision of travel health and interruption insurance "to cover for a force majeure situation."
If everything goes according to plan, 18-year-olds can apply from October 2021 via the European Youth Portal.
Those who had already received a ticket in November 2019 but could not use it due to the coronavirus crisis, can still use the free rail pass until 31 August 2021 at the latest.
The Brussels Times