I became a fan of the Eurail Pass when I first visited Europe decades ago, then enjoyed finding point-to-point discount tickets when online ticketing became possible, and finally returned to Eurail last year when I admitted that flexibility and spontaneity are worth more than always paying the lowest possible train fare. It's supposed to be a vacation, right?
Even so, I've criticized Eurail for its unwieldy paper passes. Never forget your pen!
European railway operators started accepting print-at-home tickets with barcodes more than a decade ago, and then mobile tickets with barcodes displayed on cell phones.
Now, Eurail is finally catching up. The notice for yesterday's update to Eurail's official Rail Planner app on iOS mentions,
"Our very first mobile Pass is here! Travel all over Italy paper-free with Eurail and Interrail's new mobile Italy One Country Pass. After purchase, simply load your mobile Pass..."
It goes on to say that you activate the pass within the app, and add train trips you've planned within the app to the pass before you board. (That must be their way of replacing the paper travel diary.)
Though most of us won't be able to try the Eurail variant for a while, hopefully an EU resident can test the Interrail variant and report back.
I'm particularly curious whether conductors, especially on regional trains, will be immediately familiar with the mobile pass. (The real test will come if and when there's a mobile Eurail/Interrail pass for a country like Switzerland with a strict, by-the-book culture.)