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Eurostar ponders Sunday Ski Train

10th May 2017, by Abi Butcher

The Ski Train takes skiers from London to the Tarentaise in 7.5 hours. Pic: Snowcarbon

The Ski Train takes skiers from London to the Tarentaise in 7.5 hours. Pic: Snowcarbon

Eurostar says it will look at demand for a Sunday Ski Train following the
launch of a petition to encourage the rail provider to run a non-stop service on Sundays through the winter.

Eurostar currently runs a direct service from the UK to the Tarentaise every Saturday during the ski season, but ski forum Snowheads and rail-information website Snow Carbon yesterday announced they had joined forces to urge Eurostar to consider a Sunday Ski Train.

This morning, a spokesman for Eurostar told Where to Ski and Snowboard: “It’s not something we’ve ruled out. We always look at feedback, but we’re a commercial organisation and will look at demand over the coming months while planning next winter’s timetables.”

Travel agency Iglu.com, which is backing the petition, shows that nearly 40% of ski holidays were taken Sunday to Sunday last season — a dramatic shift from 20 years ago when changeover days in the Tarentaise were almost exclusively on Saturdays.

When done direct, the journey by train from London or Ebbsfleet to the Tarentaise takes 7.5 hours and can be quicker door to door than flying. It is also a far more sustainable way to travel to ski resorts such as Les Arcs, La Plagne, Val d’Isere and the Three Valleys. If skiers travel on Sundays — or any other day of the week — the journey involves a trip across Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon to take a TGV onwards. It’s not too onerous (we did it recently for a trip to the Maurienne) but admittedly it’s not easy with a family and a lot of baggage. 

“Back in the 1990s, when Eurostar launched the Ski Train, almost all ski holidays were Saturday to Saturday,” says James Box, head of international product at Iglu.com. “But since then the ski-holiday market has shifted dramatically.”

Rail enthusiast Daniel Elkan, co-founder of Snow Carbon and one of those who started the petition, says the daytime Eurostar Ski Train is now so popular that it sells out some weeks — such as February half term — within hours of going on sale. Last season, Eurostar offered a Saturday night overnight train combined with a Sunday daytime return — again, not ideal for families.

The Eurostar spokesman told Where to Ski and Snowboard: “Last season we increased capacity on peak weeks by 50 per cent, and we have our new Lyon service that transports skiers to the French Alps, both of which have been well received, but we will look at demand for a Sunday Ski Train.”

“Rail travel is a fantastic way for skiers to make the journey part of the holiday,” says Daniel Elkan, founder of rail-ski information guide Snowcarbon, who created the petition with Graham MacMahon of skier forum, Snowheads.  “A Sunday Ski Train would spare thousands of skiers airport queues, cramped flights, and tedious transfers. It’s a long, polluting conveyor belt of boredom. We need more rail alternatives.”

La Plagne is popular with British skiers and tourist office director Xavier Feuillant said he’d love to welcome more visitors by train.

“From a sustainability point of view, rail travel is important for the Alps because if you measure the carbon footprint of a ski resort, the majority of the emissions are the result of transport of holidaymakers to the resort.”

Sign the petition for a Sunday Ski Train here



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