Tips, deals, and advice on traveling the continent on a budget.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Forget Flying - Take A Snow Train To The Alps

I've realised that planning a holiday is one of the most stressful experiences. I thought booking for two people was bad – try booking for a whole group. Adding to the stress is modern day air travel. Restrictions on hand luggage, costs for taxes, costs for extra bags, costs for extra leg room, flights cancelled due to strikes. The stress is never ending.

Flying to London once a week from Edinburgh, I get to see my fair share of delays and extra costs, so when I came to booking a group ski holiday I decided to avoid risking a repeat experience.

Choosing not to fly to the French Alps leaves two options. One, a 24 hour coach journey with cramped seats or secondly, take the train. The big issue here though is price. A typical return coach journey from London to Tignes costs £109 (quoted by National Express) whereas a return train journey using Eurostar's overnight ski train service costs around £219 for a standard return ticket in March.

Ruling out the coach journey, I decided to go for the train. The other major factor between travelling by air and rail is carbon dioxide emissions. With all the publicity surrounding man made global warming, travelling by train is the eco-tourists choice of travel. Typical CO2 emissions for a return flight to France are estimated at 250kg/CO2. The equivalent journey by train sees emissions cut to around 40kg/CO2.

Having made my decision to travel by train I looked into the other benefits of travelling on snow trains. The two main snow train providers are Eurostar and Rail Europe, both of whom operate day and night services to the French Alps. On the night train, Rail Europe's snow trains have a bar and a disco carriage. A couple of glasses of wine followed by some cheesy dancing and you can then retire to the four or six berth couchette accommodation (located well away from the disco carriage).

Another great benefit of taking the train is the ability to carry your skis or snowboard free of charge, unlike air travel where you normally have to pay at least £15 per ski set, per flight.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is two additional days skiing. Normally when you pay for a weeks ski holiday you travel Saturday to Saturday but by taking the snow train and travelling overnight, you can ski both Saturdays and get two additional days skiing. Marvellous.

With only 3 overnight ski trains left this season, the snow train is definitely worth considering for a final fling on the slopes.

For more information please refer to;

Rail Europe

Trainmountain – Snow Train Destinations

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