National Rail hits buffers with Eastern Europe ad blitz

railcardNational Rail-owned brand Interrail has raised more than a few eyebrows by launching a major email marketing campaign promoting holidays in top cities in Eastern Europe, including Warsaw, Prague and Budapest at a time of heightened tensions due the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The campaign, which promotes a 10% discount on the Interrail Card, states: “Europe contains a rich tapestry of culture, traditions and charm. With coasts, beaches, castles, palaces, old towns and mountains to explore – there’s only one way to do it…

“With an Interrail Card you’ll be able to explore Europe, by train, at your own pace. Sit back, relax and enjoy the picturesque landscape as you travel to your chosen destination with ease.”

It goes on to detail “five of our favourite European cities to visit right now”, and names Warsaw in Poland, Prague in the Czech Republic, Budapest in Hungary, Split in Croatia and Innsbruck in Austria as ideal destinations.

Although the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has not advised against travel to those countries which share borders with Ukraine – Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – the wisdom of such a move is highly questionable with war raging so close by. The FCDO states: “There are multiple reports of widespread military activity in Ukraine. You should not attempt to cross into Ukraine.”

In the travel advice for Romania, the FCDO advises: “We understand that on the Ukraine side of the border with Romania at Siret there are long queues and congestion. You may have to wait several hours to cross the border to enter Romania.”

The Government points out that there is “very limited” availability of accommodation in Poland in the vicinity of the border with Ukraine and that the British Embassy Warsaw has established a ‘temporary consular presence’ in Przemyśl, which can provide initial consular assistance for those arriving in southern Poland from Ukraine.

As of March 1, Poland will be introducing a law limiting access to areas close to the Belarusian border in parts of Podlaskie and Lubelskie Voivodeships.

The FCDO advises against all travel to Ukraine. British nationals in Ukraine should leave now while commercial means are still available.

However, some travel companies have already pulled the plug. Viking Cruises has released a statement that said: “We have made the difficult decision to cancel all 2022 departures of our Kiev, Black Sea and Bucharest itinerary.”

National Rail has yet to comment.

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