Rail travel is an enjoyable and environmentally friendly way of getting to the mountains.

Fed up of airport queues or long drives? Trains take away much of the stress that comes with flying and are a far less taxing option than driving. Sitting comfortably with friends or family, space to move about and stunning scenery on the way are just some of the benefits of going by train. If you travel overnight, you can wake up ready for an extra day on the slopes. You can do this on both legs of the journey, giving you eight days of skiing instead of six. 

Baggage allowances are a lot more generous and there are no charges for skis and boards. Transfers are much shorter, and rail travel is far more environmentally friendly than flying or driving. Of course, not all ski resorts are convenient from the UK by train, but many are – either with the direct Eurostar Ski Train, or by travelling via Paris or Lyon.  

In many cases, rail travel rivals flying, when measured door-to-door, as this ‘Plane vs Train’ race shows:  

Plane vs Train

 

Your Train Options

 

Your Train Options

There are several options to get you to the slopes by train:

Eurostar Direct Ski Train - Daytime & Overnight

Eurostar’s Ski Train is no longer available to book independently, instead replaced by a complete package option known as the Travelski Express, available via Compagnie des Alpes. There is a concerted industry-wide effort to reinstate an independently available Ski Train, particularly in light of growing concerns regarding the impact of flying on climate change. The same route can be traced by taking a Eurostar and changing via Paris or Lille onto the TGV.

We would like to support Snowcarbon in their campaign to save Eurostar’s ski train has an uncertain future. Please visit Snowcarbon’s website to see how you can help.

 

Eurostar + TGV

Take a Eurostar from London to Paris, and then change station (which is easy by taxi or metro, depending on your luggage) to take a TGV bound for the Alps. For some destinations a further change of train (to a regional train, InterCity or RailJet train) may be required. A variation on this journey is to travel to Paris in the late afternoon or evening, stop over and take a TGV to your resort the next morning.

Journeys run daytime, daily, with more services at weekends. The following major towns are served directly by TGV services (in bold) and offer short transfers, either by bus, taxi or narrow gauge/funicular railway, to associated resorts:

The Chamonix area is served by hourly local services which connect to/from the TGV at Belgarde-sur-Valserine station, 2hrs 45mins from Paris Gare de Lyon.

Briancon, for MontgenevreSerre Chevalier, and access to Italian resorts in the Via Lattea, is likewise served by a connecting local train from Valence Ville, which is a 2hrs 30mins TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon.

Eurostar + Corail Lunea Sleeper Train

Take an early-evening Eurostar from London to Paris, and then change station (which is easy by taxi or metro, depending on luggage) and take a Corail Lunea sleeper train. These sleeper services are equipped with “couchette” beds in compartments of, normally, four.
Journeys run: every day to most of the destinations served.

Destinations: In 2016 SNCF axed most of their sleeper services, but one Alpine route remains, from Paris to Briancon. This serves the French resorts of Serre Chevalier and Montgenèvre, and Italian resorts on the Via Lattea, such as Sauze d’OulxSestrière and Clavière; a second route to the Pyrenean border town of Latour-de-Carol offers onward connections to Andorra, Font Romeu and several other resorts.

France is currently petitioning to increase sleeper routes across both Metropolitan France and in concert with other European nations. This should see an expansion of available routes from 2024.

 

Eurostar + NightJet sleeper train

Take a Eurostar to Brussels, change platform there and take an ICE train to Cologne, where you catch the NightJet sleeper train to the Austrian Tirol region, home to a range of great ski resorts. Many destinations are served by an onward connection from Innsbruck, either by transfer to the resort directly, for somewhere like St. Anton, a connecting intercity service.
Facilities on board: ICE trains have restaurant carriages; the NightJet has couchette compartments for 2, 3 or 4 people. Some compartments have ensuite washing and shower facilities too. A light breakfast is included.
Journeys run: every night of the year

Destinations include: AlpbachHopfgarten, IschglKitzbühelKühtaiMayrhofenObergurgl/HochgurglSt AntonSt Johann in TirolSeefeldSöll, and Westendorf.

Eurostar + Alpen Express sleeper train

Either take a Eurostar to Amsterdam and catch the Alpen Express sleeper train from there, or (setting out a bit later) take a Eurostar to Brussels, change platform there and take an ICE train to Cologne, where you catch the Alpen Express sleeper train to a very wide range of Austrian ski resorts. The Alpen Express is equipped with couchette sleeper compartments for either 3, 5 or 6 people. Some compartments have ensuite washing facilities too. A light breakfast is included.
Journeys run: every Friday from 20th December 2019 to 13th March 2020

Destinations include: AlpbachBad GasteinHopfgarten, IschglKaprunKirchbergKitzbühelKühtaiMayrhofenObergurgl/HochgurglSt AntonSt Johann in TirolSeefeldSöll, and Westendorf.

For more about train options, visit the Snowcarbon website, or see the The Man in Seat 61 for comprehensive guides to rail travel across the UK, Europe and the World. The Ski Club's comprehensive resort guides can provide you with plenty more information about all of the resorts mentioned here, many of which also host Ski Club Reps and Ambassadors.

We would like to support Snowcarbon in their campaign to save Eurostar’s ski train, which has been cancelled for the 2020/21 season and re-instated but without the option to book independently. Please visit Snowcarbon’s website to see how you can help

 

Transfer by Train

Many resorts that are directly served by rail are therefore accessible from local airports, offering a scenic alternative to driving or a coach transfer. This is particularly true in Switzerland, where several of the Ski Club’s favourite resorts are served by rail, including:

These resorts are accessible from both Geneva and Zurich Airports – listed as “Flughafen” on the SBB website. For more details, to explore options, and to book tickets, head to the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) website, available in English here.

Train-Friendly Resorts

There are plenty of excellent ski resorts that you can reach by train – here is a selection of 10 of them. 

Avoriaz, France

Example rail journey:  Depart London St Pancras to Paris-Nord, stop over and take 07:11 TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon the next morning, arriving at Cluses at 11:05; from there it’s 50 minutes by bus or taxi.

La Plagne, France

Example rail journey:  Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 Eurostar Ski Train, arriving at Aime la Plagne station at 18:30. From there it’s 20-40 minutes by bus or taxi.

Les Arcs, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 18:51. From there it is a seven-minute funicular ride to Arc 1600, with free onward shuttle bus to the other villages.

Méribel, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Moutiers, arriving at 18:12; from there it’s 25 - 35 minutes by bus or taxi. 

St Anton, Austria

Example rail journey:  Depart London St Pancras on the 18:01 Eurostar to Paris-Nord. Stopover in Paris and take the 07:23 TGV from Paris-Lyon, changing in Zurich to the 12:40 RailJet arriving at St Anton at 15:03.

Tignes, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 18:51; from there it’s 45 minutes by bus or taxi. 

Val d’Isère, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Bourg St Maurice, arriving at 18:51; from there it’s 40 minutes by bus or taxi. 

Val Thorens, France

Example rail journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:45 direct Eurostar Ski Train to Moutiers, arriving at 18:12; from there it’s 50 minutes by bus or taxi. 

Sauze d’Oulx, Italy

Example train journey: Depart London St Pancras on the 09:22 Eurostar to Paris; then take a TGV to Oulx, arriving at 19:23.  From there it’s 15 minutes by bus or taxi.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Example train journey: depart London St Pancras on the 18:31 Eurostar to Paris; stopover and take the 08:02 TGV Lyria changing at Visp, to arrive Zermatt at 15:51.

You can use Snowcarbon’s Journey Planner to find out how to get to these top European resorts.

Tips for Smoother Journeys and Lower Fares

Tip 1: Book early if possible

Most train tickets are sold in price bands and - in general - the earlier you book, the more chance of finding cheaper tickets. The Eurostar Ski Train goes on sale around mid July each year. Other tickets are normally 90 – 120 days ahead of the travel date.

Tip 2: Use the phone, not just the web

Whether you are booking independent rail travel to ski resort, or a rail-ski package from a tour operator, use the phone as well as the web. This will help you find independent fares or rail-ski packages that aren't obvious to find online, even though they exist.

Tip3: Expert booking agents can help

If you are daunted by the idea of booking an unfamiliar rail journey to the Alps for your party, there are specialist rail-booking agents who can help. Two such agents are Ffestiniog Travel and Rail Canterbury, both of which have years of experience booking rail travel into Europe. They charge a small commission for their services and they can help you find the suitable journey options for the best prices – saving you time, hassle and money overall.

Tip 3: Children get generous discounts

Independent fares to the Alps for children aged 4-11 are approximately 30% cheaper than adult fares, and children under four can travel for free (without a reserved seat).

Tip 4: Changing in Paris is easy with a pre-booked taxi

If your journey involves a change of train station in Paris, it may be easiest to pre-book a taxi to meet you at the end of the Eurostar (or TGV) platform. Fares start at about 35€ for 1-4 people.

Tip 5: You can bring food and drink on board

Remember that you can bring food and drink on board, potentially saving you money and giving you a wider choice of what to eat and drink. On the overnight Eurostar Ski Train, alcohol isn’t allowed, however. 

Tip 6: Groups of 10 or more can book further in advance

If there are more than 10 in your party, it’s possible to book further in advance, with advantageous prices and conditions. Rail companies offer discounts and the ability to register in advance, so that when tickets for popular dates go on sale, you are first in the queue. 

Tip 7: You don’t always need to decide which resort in advance

If you want to book independent train tickets as soon as they come out, but haven’t decided which resort you want to go to, this may not be a problem. Stations on the same line in the Alps often have exactly the same fares, so you can just book to the furthest station and your tickets will still be valid for whichever station you choose. For example, you could book to Bourg St Maurice and your tickets would still be valid to and from Moutiers instead. If in doubt, check with the rail company before booking.

Tip 8: Save money by sharing a taxi

Transfers from train stations are much shorter - and cheaper - than airport transfers. However, if there are only a couple of you taking a taxi and you would like to save money by sharing with others going the same way at the same time, let the taxi driver know at the time of booking. The taxi company can then mix you in with others similarly happy to share, saving everyone money and benefitting the environment too. 

Useful Resources and Websites

Eurostar

Website: Eurostar.com
Phone: 03432 186 186
Mon-Fri 8am - 7pm; Sat-Sun 9am - 5pm.
Booking fee: £10 per booking (not per person)
Eurostar can book journeys with the Eurostar Ski Train and Eurostar + TGV to a variety of selected stations. However, Eurostar can’t book journeys that involve local French trains.
Eurostar’s website is, naturally, the best place to book the Eurostar Ski Train, and also good for some Eurostar + TGV journeys.

Deutsche Bahn
Website: Bahn.co.uk
Phone: 08718 80 80 66
Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (local UK time)
Email: [email protected]
Deutche Bahn can book almost any train journey from the UK to the Alps. Deutsche Bahn’s website can book most journeys for you.

Switzerland Travel Centre

Website: Switzerlandtravelcentre.com
Phone: 020 7 420 4934
Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm; Saturday: 9am – 1pm
[email protected]
Switzerland Travel Centre can book train journeys to the Alps – and not only to Swiss destinations.

Rail Travel Shop (for Alpen Express to Austria)
Website: Railtravelshop.com
By email: [email protected]
By phone: +31 715161983
Mon-Fri: 09.30 - 17.30; Sat: 10.00 - 17.00 (Central European time)

Trainline.eu

Website: Trainline.com
Formerly Capitaine Train, this ticket retailer has a user-friendly website and helpful guidance, which we rate as on a par with Loco2.com.

Loco2.com (RailEurope)

Website: Raileurope.co.uk
Online ticket retailer Loco2 was recently bought by SNCF. It is relatively easy to use with well-written guides.

oui.SNCF

Website: en.oui.sncf/en/
The French rail company’s new website (formerly called Voyages SNCF and before that, Rail Europe)

Ffestiniog Travel
Ffestiniog Travel is a rail-booking agent - and also a charitable trust - based in Wales. Profits go to the upkeep of a local heritage railway.
Phone: 01766 515630;

Email: [email protected]

Rail Canterbury
Husband and wife team Jacky and Phil run this small Canterbury-based rail-ticket agency.
Phone: 01227 450088;

Email: [email protected]

Maps
The new European Rail Map (Europeanrailtimetable; £10.99 + p&p)

Seat61.com
Founded by rail expert Mark Smith, Seat 61 is an independent guide to rail travel into Europe and beyond

Snowcarbon

Website: Snowcarbon.co.uk
Snowcarbon is an independent guide to help skiers and snowboarders find out how to travel to ski resorts train. 

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