CHENNAI: When Shah Rukh Khan romanced Kajol in the blockbuster “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge,” Indians discovered the magic of Eurail. Since then, thousands of Indian travellers have headed to Europe, not just for educational and business purposes but also to explore its rich heritage, nature and culture. And now, it’s more affordable with Eurail offering up to 37% off on its Global Pass since January this year, and an additional 5% off this fall.
“In the last couple of years, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of Indian travellers who are opting for rail travel, with the majority preferring to travel to western and southern Europe,” says Yi Ding, market manager Asia, Eurail BV.
Switzerland, Germany and Italy are the top three countries preferred by Indian travellers. Many travellers also opt for train travel as it takes them along scenic routes — from dramatic mountains to crystal clear lakes, through vast forests and along stunning rivers.
“The Golden Pass train, running between Lucerne and Montreux, which offers the perfect view of a range of Swiss delights, including the Alps, pristine vineyards and lakes, small villages, and bigger cities, is among the popular routes,” says Yi Ding.
“The train journey between Levanto and La Spezia is brief but beautiful, and it gives travellers a stunning vantage point of this dramatic corner of Italy,” she says, adding that these routes can be enjoyed with a Eurail Global Pass, or with a Eurail One-Country Pass for those who want to spend their vacation experiencing one European country only.
To make the experience more pocket-friendly for travellers, Eurail announced a permanent 37% discount on Global Passes in January 2019. And this has encouraged more Indians to opting for the “unlimited” rail travel. Especially as they don’t need to reply on tour operators and can chart their own path across Europe.
“The Rail Planner app helps travellers to DIY their routes,” says Yi Ding, adding that, so far, over 10,000 Indian travellers have used an Eurail pass in 2019.
“Eurail gives access to an extensive network of more than 35 European railway and shipping companies across 40,000 railway stations, covering up to 31 European countries,” says Yi Ding. The passes can be booked up to 11 months in advance and can be purchased online as well as through general sales agents.
People who buy the pass can also avail of hundreds of benefits and price reductions all over Europe. “Travellers can access discounts on European ferry routes, boat tours, hotel rooms, museum tickets, city cards and more,” says Yi Ding, adding that a complete list of pass benefits for each country is available through the free Eurail Rail Planner App, which was launched in 2013. “We upgraded it in May 2019, keeping in mind the evolving and tech-savvy traveller of today,” she adds.
While summer vacations are long over, the company is also promoting rail travel during fall and winter by offering an additional 5% off on all Eurail Global Passes purchased before October 29. “It’s the perfect time for Indian travellers to explore Europe as there are fewer tourists, shorter lines, cheaper airfares and hotel rates,” says Yi Ding. “For every Eurail Global Pass purchased during the time period, customers will receive a 5% discount off the regular price, and Eurail will donate 15 euros to charity.”
(The writer travelled to Europe on the invitation of Eurail)