Eurail Group G.I.E., the organization dedicated to the marketing and management of the Eurail Pass, officially announced the following changes to the Eurail Pass product, taking effect January 1, 2013:
- Turkey will join the Eurail Global and Eurail Select Pass when TCDD, the Turkish railway company, becomes a Eurail Pass member on January 1, 2013. With Turkey ranked as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world, visited by more than 31.5 million foreign tourist in 2011, Eurail Group GIE expects the country to become a very popular choice among Eurail Pass travelers as well. Although Turkey is accessible by train from Bulgaria, travelers should be aware that construction work will affect some routes until the fall of 2013.
- Westbahn will be the first private railway company to join the Eurail Group railway community in January, offering Eurail Pass holders the opportunity to enjoy its high-speed services between Salzburg and Vienna. Westbahn, a December 2011 start-up enterprise, is offering hourly passenger train service between these two cities.
- SNCF, the French national railway company, has decided to withdraw its participation in the Eurail Select Pass as of January 2013. Nevertheless, the French network will still be accessible to customers who purchase the Eurail Global Pass (valid in 24 participating countries per Jan. 2013) or the Eurail Regional Pass (valid for travel in two bordering European countries).
Eurail Select Passes, including France, can still be purchased through December 31, 2012 from authorized sales agents (note that some agents may stop selling this pass around the 27th December). Select Pass holders, who purchase their passes before the end of the year, can rest assured that their passes will be valid on SNCF’s trains for their entire validity period in 2013; however, passes must be validated within six months of purchase.
“Even though SNCF will no longer participate in the Eurail Select Pass product, pass holders will still be able to reach Spain and Portugal by ferry via Italy, receiving a 20% discount from Grimaldi Lines,” saysAna Dias e Seixas, Eurail Group’s Marketing Director. “Furthermore, travelers will still be able to travel in France using a Eurail Regional Pass (2 country combination including France), which can be used in conjunction with a Eurail Select Pass to cover any other country combinations,” Dias e Seixas added.