For 140 Irish 18-Year-Olds

18-year-olds in Ireland are being urged to apply for a new scheme for a free Inter Rail pass.

140 Irish young people will be given a free rail pass as part of the DiscoverEU initiative, which aims to promote the continent to young people.

15,000 passes are being made available for 18-year-olds across Europe this summer as part of the pilot scheme

Anybody who is 18 on July 1st is eligible - with the EU saying that age "marks a major step to adulthood and to European citizenship".

Picture by: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/PA Images

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said the programme will be expanded over the coming years if this pilot is a success.

He observed: “Over €30 billion has been invested by the EU in the European Rail Network. Encouraging people to use it makes perfect sense.

"While DiscoverEU is a small project now it has the potential to be as successful as other EU programmes like Erasmus.”

He added that the EU will also help Irish citizens access the rail network as part of the scheme, as a ferry or potentially flight will be necessary to reach the continent.

Applications open on the 12th of June, and will close two weeks later.