Posted on 15 September 2021
In the early days of skiing, getting to the Alps was an experience. The journey was part of the trip. With concerns about the environmental impact of using cars and flights, the train has once again become an attractive option for skiers everywhere. When you’re investing in a ski property, it’s nice to know there’s a fast, easy train route straight to your door.
From the days of Hemingway in the Swiss Alps, skiers across Europe have been using the train routes to reach the slopes. Early skiers may not have had much choice in the matter, but as the decades wore on, there was still something a little bit magical about the ski train.
So, what is it about the ski train that we’re still so fascinated by today? Is the ski train the future of Alpine transfers, if you’re looking at investing in property?
Ski Trains: A History
As skiing has been an increasingly popular winter sport since the 1920s, the ski train was a staple for early package holiday operators such as Erna Low. These holidays were designed to foster an atmosphere of excitement from the moment the train pulled away from the platform.
In the early days of skiing, the presence of ski trains was a vital part of ski trips as neither driving nor flying had yet become accessible. As these easier, faster options became more readily available, using the ski train became less common. The ski train began to fall out of favour in the Seventies and Eighties, as it was a longer, harder journey than a plane or car.
Since Eurostar began operating a regular service in 1995 it has become increasingly easy for travellers to reach the French Alps via train. Historically, this has meant getting the Eurostar to Paris and then hopping onto a super-fast TGV train to the Alps.
The Eurostar Comeback
If you’re looking at investing in ski property, you might already have clocked the Eurostar’s increasing their service. The Ski Train, as it was dubbed, left London directly for Bourg St Maurice and Moutiers. It was an extension that was met with delight by all those who were upset by the cancellation of the overnight trains that once ran from Paris to the Alps.
Eurostar’s easy, day-long journey from London to the French Alps was first established in 2018 and was a popular addition to the service during the two seasons it ran. It eliminated the need to switch trains from the Eurostar service to the TGV, which only runs at 8.45 am during weekdays.
The full journey from St Pancras to Moutiers took nine hours and was a smooth-sailing experience. The arrival of the pandemic, which forced French ski resorts to close during the 2020/2021 season, forced Eurostar to stop running the ski train.
The 2021/2022 Season
While Eurostar is not able to resume their route this winter, they have partnered with the Compagnie des Alpes to bring back the ski train on a charter basis. The train will run as the Travelski Express and will enable visitors to visit such resorts as Les Arcs, Val d’Isere and Tignes, and the Three Valleys.
Leaving on Friday nights, with a return train leaving on Saturdays, this service will run on the same hours as the original Eurostar service. The service is being offered as a package deal, with shuttles, lodging and ski pass, and it hasn’t yet been announced whether you will be able to buy rail only tickets.
If you’re looking at investing in a ski property though, and you want to visit the Alps this winter, this service is perfect! The easy, wifi-enabled evening journey to the Alps will make your whole trip that much more hassle-free.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
As climate change worsens, it’s becoming more important to find ways to reduce our carbon footprints wherever we can. The infrastructure across the French Alps has a long way to go before train travel becomes an option for every resort. That said, those who are looking at investing in ski property in one of the resorts close to Bourg St Maurice and Moutiers can look into the option.
The difference between taking the train to the Alps, and taking a plane, is around 200 grams of CO2 emissions. The difference between driving and taking the train is between 40 and 150 grams, depending on how many passengers you have. Eurostar is the best of all options included in the BBC study and has only six grams of CO2 emissions. This makes it by far the most environmentally friendly option for skiers.
As skiers, the effects of climate change are obvious, and the need to protect our glaciers so we can continue enjoying this sport is vital. Being able to choose a lower carbon emissions travel option makes our lives that much easier.
The Future of the Ski Train
While the Ski Train only runs once a week currently, we have high hopes that that will change in the future. Pressure to provide low emissions travel options will only increase in years to come, and Eurostar is in an ideal perfect position.
Choosing to use it wherever we can, will enable those who run the service to make it better, more regular, and expand the number of stations on offer. A regular Eurostar service to the Alps will only benefit travellers from the UK who want to visit their beautiful ski properties. In fact, it’ll be great for anyone hoping to use a more environmentally sound method of travel.
The service is still very imperfect, and you won’t be able to use it for a long weekend just yet. That said, if you’re planning on visiting the Alps, consider the Ski Train. After all, fewer carbon emissions will mean better skiing; that’s a big incentive for anyone investing in a ski property!
If you are interested in investing in a ski property, take a look at our listings. If you have any questions, or you want to enquire with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts. We are always happy to help you find your dream ski chalet!