Whether or not you can get a senior discount on rail passes depends on multiple factors. In many countries, senior discounts on rail passes are a thing of the past. In Canada and Europe, however, the senior pass is alive and well.
You probably remember those glorious college days, when summers were spent working just long enough to save up some money for a long backpacking trip around Europe. You'd find a travel buddy, buy a Eurail pass and hit the open road.
Whether your backpacking days are far behind you or you still bunk at youth hostels to save money, it's nice to know that rail passes are still around. Best of all, some rail system operators offer a senior discount on rail passes.
Senior Rail Pass Discounts in Canada
VIA Rail Canada offers senior discounts on two types of rail passes, the Canrail Pass and the Corridor Pass.
The Canrailpass-System allows travelers age 60 and older seven one-way trips in Economy Class anywhere in Canada over a 21-day period. You are allowed one stopover during this time period. Prices vary by season; peak season is June 1 through October 15. In off-peak months, the price of the pass drops dramatically. You can purchase either a "Discounted" or "Supersaver" pass; the "Supersaver" pass is less expensive but you must book your travel at least three days in advance.
The Canrailpass-Corridor gives travelers age 60 and older seven one-way trips over a 10-day period in southern Ontario and Quebec, including Quebec City, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Ottawa.
This pass is available in Economy Class only. One stopover is permitted. As with the systemwide pass, you can buy either a "Discounted" or "Supersaver" pass.
Senior Rail Pass Discounts in Europe
According to Rail Europe, senior discounts for travelers from North America age 60 and older are available on rail passes in the UK, Ireland, France, and Romania.
You'll need to purchase your rail pass before you leave home. You may want to book seat reservations once you arrive, particularly in high season; the pass alone does not guarantee you a seat. Standing in a train corridor is not fun.
Within the UK, seniors can buy discounted first class BritRail and BritRail England passes, good for 3, 4, 8, 15 or 22 days or one month of travel in a two-month period.
The Eurail Ireland Pass allows you to travel in first or second class for five days in a one-month period. Similarly, the Eurail Romania Pass gives you five days of first class travel or 10 days' travel in a two-month period.
If you're visiting France, the France Pass offers three to nine days of rail travel in a one-month period. The senior discount only applies to the first-class France Pass; if you're traveling on a budget, the second-class adult France Pass is a better deal.
What About the Eurostar Chunnel Train?
Rail pass holders may not use their passes on Eurostar "Chunnel" trains; tickets for Eurostar travel must be purchased separately.
The Eurostar train, which goes through the "Chunnel" between the UK and the European continent, does advertise senior fares. The U.S. dollar price of a senior fare ticket is equal to the adult ticket price, but you do get better opportunities to exchange your tickets if you purchase a senior ticket.