Interrailing for the Older Crowd

Presenter: Dave Hepper

Hybrid Meeting both Physically at Shenfield Parish Hall and via Zoom

‘Interrailing’ used to be thought of as something that students did in their ‘gap’ year. Whilst it is still common for young people to spend a period travelling through Europe by train, since 1998 the pass has been available to all ages with senior passes for those 60+ begin available at a discount from the standard adult fare.

Dave Hepper bought a 3-month Interrail pass in 2023 and chose to undertake ten separate trips during the validity of the pass rather than embarking on a single three-month odyssey. The pass allows two rail journeys in the UK to and from the border with Dave making the other UK-Europe journeys by air or ferry. He would often fly in once direction and use rail for the other to avoid re-tracing his steps.

The result was a very entertaining and informative presentation which included an expedition to Istanbul via one of the traditional routes of the Orient Express (but without the luxury) an excursion to the Russian border in the north of Norway along with several journeys through Western and Eastern Europe often covering spectacular rail routes. Of the 33 countries covered by the Interrail pass, David has so far covered 25 with more planned for 2024.

It was good to see some older locomotives and rolling stock still in use but Dave warned that many of these are in their twilight years shortly to be replaced perhaps by the ubiquitous Siemens ‘Vectron’ or the ever-increasing range of multiple units.

Whilst gleaning a lot of information from the website ‘The man in Seat 61’ and the Facebook group ‘Interrailing for the Older Crowd’ - after which his presentation was named, his two most valuable resources were the Rail Map Europe from the compilers of the European Rail Timetable and the book Europe by Rail – The Definitive Guide by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kreis.