EU to provide free rail travel passes to 60,000 young people

Europeans aged 18-20 can apply from Tuesday as part of DiscoverEU initiative

People aged 18-20 can apply for one of thousands of free European Union rail travel passes from Tuesday.

The European Commission is providing free travel rail passes to 60,000 Europeans born between July 1st, 2001, and December 31st, 2003, as part of the EU initiative DiscoverEU.

DiscoverEU gives young people the opportunity to discover Europe through learning experiences. Almost 70,000 young people have been awarded a travel pass throughout the four application rounds since 2018.

This year the initiative is back “bigger than ever”, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said.

There would be 60,000 passes available in this round and “new opportunities for young people to take a train, broaden their horizons, extend their learning, enrich their experiences and meet fellow Europeans”.

Throughout the pandemic, young people had “sacrificed valuable youthful and defining moments of their lives” in a spirit of “solidarity”, said Margaritis Schinas, European Commission vice-president for the European way of life.

This year people aged 19 and 20 can also apply because their rounds were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Applications for the new round open on October 12th and close on October 26th.

Flexible bookings

Successful applicants can travel between March 2022 and February 2023 for up to 30 days and all travellers will be offered flexible bookings through a new mobile travel pass due to the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

Successful applicants can travel alone or in a group of up to five people as long as all people are within the eligible age range.

Participants will predominantly travel by rail. However, to ensure wide access across the EU, and to ensure young people living in remote areas or on islands can take part, participants can also use coaches or ferries, or exceptionally, planes.

Every EU member state is allocated a number of travel passes based on its population.

There were 672 Irish participants under the previous four application rounds in 2018 and 2019. It is not yet clear how many will be allocated to Ireland this year.

Young people with special needs were strongly encouraged to participate in this round and the Commission would cover the costs of special assistance, such as an accompanying person, or an assistance dog. More information can be found here.