Carbon conscious skiing: taking the train to the Alps

With everyone thinking harder about their carbon footprint, more buyers of holiday homes in the Alps are considering how best to travel to them this year. Studies show that well over half the carbon emissions in a typical ski resort result from transport of holidaymakers to and from the resort.

ski train

According to energy consumption website Ecopassenger.org, a typical one-way journey by plane from London to Geneva (one of the key airports serving the French and Swiss Alps), creates around 134kg of carbon dioxide per person while a car doing the same journey generates 97.8kg. By comparison, a train journey is far less damaging to the environment, releasing only 18.9kg per person.

For obvious geographic reasons, the French Alps are the most accessible by train from the UK and the Eurostar Ski Train is the most direct route. According to a new website, Snowcarbon.co.uk, resorts that are best connected to ski trains include Alpe d’Huez, Avoriaz, La Plagne, Le Grand Bornand, Les Gets, Megeve, Meribel, Tignes, Val d’Isere and Morzine, among others.

But that doesn’t exclude resorts in other countries. Those wishing to ski in Italy can take the TGV (high speed train) direct from Paris to Oulx, near Turin, which offers an easy transfer to resorts including Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere. Meanwhile, the very committed can overnight in Paris and then take the train to the Swiss resort of Verbier via Lausanne and Martigny.

The Eurostar Ski Train which travels between St Pancras and Bourg St Maurice between late December and early April each year is the simplest of journeys to make, recommends Daniel Elkan, the founder of Snowcarbon.co.uk. Taking between seven and eight hours, you can then pick up a bus or taxi to travel to a number of resorts within a 25- or 45-minute drive. There are two types of journeys: travelling either by day on a Saturday or catching the overnight train (sleeping in a couchette) which goes out on Friday and back on Saturday night.

What if I miss tickets on the Ski Train? Travel isn’t just limited to the specific ski train, however. There are multiple TGV trains that go throughout the winter season. For example, you can catch the 07.52 train from London St Pancras, change stations in Paris from the Gare du Nord to the Gare du Lyon (a short hop on the Metro) and be in Aime La Plagne by 17.26.

What does it cost? Fares on the Eurostar Ski Train start at £160 per adult but expect to pay between £300 and £500 return at peak times such as holidays and the February half term, according to Snowcarbon.co.uk. Children aged between 4 and 11 have a 30% discount on full-price tickets.

5 reasons to travel by train to the Alps

  1. It’s better for the environment.
  2. It’s as fast as flying, once you factor in all the extra time needed to travel to the airport, check in, collect luggage and travel up to the resort.
  3. You can make the week last longer—by travelling overnight on Friday, waking up early on Saturday in the Alps you can enjoy the quiet slopes as most people will be arriving or leaving. Then you ski the last day before getting the overnight train home.
  4. Children love travelling by train.
  5. The journey is fun—you can meet other skiers and walk around, enjoying the ever-changing scenery.


Chalet for sale

Idyllic chalet in Courchevel 1850
This newly built four-bedroom chalet in 1850 is ideal for a large family of keen skiers

ski chalet Courchevel

How to get there by train: either the Eurostar Ski Train or the TGV to Moutier and then it’s a 30-minute taxi transfer.

Price on application through Winkworth International

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