New ski rail map - on review
The new ski rail map of the Alps was first launched at the London Ski and Snowboard show in 2010, but we have a copy to review. The map, published by Roger Lascelles Ltd, aims to help those travelling by train, or thinking about trying it, to plan their journeys to the snow – low carbon ones, of course.
The first edition has been produced with input from various top ski organisations and shows the network on 120 resorts with their own station, as well as the position of 400 resorts across the Alps – also showing the nearest towns with a connection. It features classic resorts in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland as well as destinations in Germany and Slovenia.
There are no roads marked, so what you are studying is purely rail links, including high speed lines and major tunnels. Also shown are the key airports. So, for example, at a glance you can see that Lyon airport is on the main rail network, but that Grenoble airport is not (Grenoble town does have a station though). And the map is clear and uncluttered for easy viewing.
Accompanying the map is a handy little booklet with facts and details of routes within the main countries, resort facts for around 100 accessible by rail, and an insert map to getting there from the UK – with journey times from cities in more than 10 European countries (nine hours from London – although this really only benefits skiers living the south-east anyway).
Naturally, the publication aims to encourage full journeys by rail, but we think it works best as a quick reference guide to resorts with stations and nearest major airports – or for planning day trips to nearby resorts etc. Perhaps non-skiers wishing for a day out to a different area or city could benefit.
Spread the map out on your coffee table for a quick reference guide to seeing which resorts have train stations – either if you can’t remember, or simply want to know for short breaks or ease of transfer. Resorts with stations are marked with a large yellow dot, other ski resorts with a small dot. Mountain railways are shown with a dotted line and resorts featured in the booklet are ‘boxed’.
It’s certainly useful for independent travel; we like to refer to areas with reference to airports and transfers. The resort dots lack clear definition in size on the map though, and could be more obvious. And there are no approximate timings on the map itself.
In the booklet, detailed information is provided on how to reach resorts including connections with airports, timings and where to change trains. Handy website and phone number links are listed too. It’s a useful start, easy to read and gives you a good idea of travel to a selection of resorts; but is limited at present – we’re not sure that it could expand really, when the main purpose is as a map.
With journey times and routes listed in the booklet, it feels a bit detached from the map itself – which doesn’t give any indication of changes or times and feels as though that information should be better targeted. Perhaps a more suitable place would be on the back of the map.
And there are a few unusual route inclusions too – for Slovenia, for example, they mention only Maribor – which is less popular for British visitors, being out east and with no UK flights into its airport. More popular Bohinj has the only resort station in the country, with Kobla a walk away and Vogel a short bus ride; but is only listed in the fact sheet. However, there are plenty of main resorts listed in a compact but detailed way.
Sometimes it is easy to overlook the possibilities to incorporating rail travel into a winter holiday. We particularly enjoy hopping on a train to another resort for the day – Mayrhofen to Kaltenbach, for example; Innsbruck to St Anton; Interlaken to the Jungfrau resorts; Andermatt to Sedrun; St-Gervais to Chamonix ….
Studying the new ski map is an interesting and helpful start to your rail experience. And there is quite a bit of detail packed in there too.
The new SkiRail Map of the Alps is available in several formats (including a laminated version – £22) and available in Waterstones, Stanfords etc. It retails from £8.95 – so good value for the information it contains. You can also order direct from the publishers at the Roger Lascelles website: www.rogerlascellesmaps.co.uk