Inside track - the Snowcarbon blog
Two extra days on the slopes and a direct journey that delivers you minutes from the ski slopes...the overnight Eurostar Ski Train sounds ideal in principle.
However, there is one problem: unlike sleeper trains from Paris, the direct service doesn't have proper flat beds but merely seats that recline a little. This means you have to sit up all night, lean on a friend or partner's shoulder or try and curl across two seats - if there is space.
Rail Europe has just announced that the winter 2013-14 booking horizons - which mean that you can book journeys that use a Eurostar + at TGV train or a Eurostar + a Corail Lunea sleeper train (the Eurostar Ski Train is already on sale).
The booking window opens at 5am on the 17th October.
The booking windows are never as simple as it could or should be, but it works like this:
You might have got out of bed as early as we did, to check fares on the Eurostar Ski Train.
Tickets went on sale at 06:30 this morning.
At 06:46 (the first time that the site gave us a price), the prices for peak dates had already rocketed: Christmas and New Year were both already £299 per adult retun, and February half-term already £369 return.
The Eurostar Ski Train opens for booking next week - probably on Tuesday morning.
The timetable is similar to last season, with a few notable changes.
The day train leaves from St Pancras at 09:39, twenty minutes earlier than previously. It reaches the Alps at the same time.
Around this time of year the Eurostar Ski Train can be quite expensive, particularly for peak dates.
But if you haven't already chosen accommodation and would be happy with a package from a ski tour operator, then a very good-value way to have a ski holiday with the Eurostar Ski Train is to buy a package with either Inghams or Crystal.
One of the many great things about travelling to ski resorts by train is that you can take your skis or board with you, and not have them dumped in the hold of a plane and be charged for the privilege.
Have you ever watched the excellent film No Country for Old Men?
One of the best lines comes when the Sheriff and his Deputy arrive at a scene of carnage. There has been a shoot out, and dead bodies lie blooded and strewn on the grass, between cars ridden with bullet holes.
Deputy: “It’s a big old mess ain’t it Sherriff?”
Sherriff: [staring into mid-distance] “Well if it ain’t a mess, it’ll do till the mess gets here...”
When you are trying to find a ski holiday by train, do you ever feel this way?
A lot of skiers – perhaps you - are waiting for booking to open in the Corail Lunea sleeper trains from Paris to French ski resorts.
The Corail Lunea trains have a big advantage over the direct overnight Eurostar Ski train (which is already on sale) because they have couchette beds (the Eurostar direct overnight train only has reclining seats).
For many journeys to ski resorts by train, you need to change station in Paris.
We often hear people say: "We'd love to travel by train, but isn't the change in Paris difficult?"
Well it is, and it isn't. We've created a whole section about changing in Paris to show you how to do it simply and easily.
If you’ve ever woken up at 2am to stand in an airport queue that seems longer than the flight itself, or huddled around the luggage carousel as it – hopefully - churns out your luggage, you’ll know that there isn’t much fun, or romance, about flying to a ski resort.And if you’ve taken the train, you’ll know that there is.
This morning we checked prices on sale now, for our Ski Trains Price Check - a page that shows you many of the season's bookable fares at a glance.
When you check fares regularly, as we are doing, you learn some things:
Surely the fastest way to reach the Alps is to fly...
Or is it?
Hope you enjoy this film we've made - Top Gear style - love to hear your thoughts!:
From emails we’ve been getting, and talk on Snowheads, it is clear that some skiers are having a frustrating time trying to book the Corail Lunea sleeper train.
These are skiers who, white reasonably, want to take this train so they can get extra time on the slopes and sleep in a flat couchette bed (the direct overnight Eurostar Ski Train only has reclining seats).
It was a crazy situation.
Every Saturday last season, the direct Eurostar Ski Train would arrive at Moutiers station at 18:13. Alighting there would be hundreds of skiers, many bound for the resort of Meribel and looking forward to dinner on the first night of their holiday.
To make the 20-minute journey from Moutiers station to the resort, these skiers had a choice: public bus or taxi. Except they didn't. Because the last public bus for Moutiers would depart each Saturday at 18:00, exactly 13 minutes before the Eurostar arrived. Nuts!
Great news: Eurostar has this morning announced the launch of a new ski train service to the Swiss Alps.
Skiers and snowboarders will be able to reach resorts like Verbier, Zermatt and Saas Fee more easily than before.
You take a Eurostar to Lille, and then change onto a TGV Lyria train to Switzerland.
Fares from London will start from £189 return, and go on sale from 11th October.
The service runs every Saturday, from 22nd December 2012 (first outbound) - 13th April (last inbound)
One of the many advantages of travelling to ski resorts by train is being able to take what luggage you want, including skis and snowboard, and not be charged for the priviledge.
But there is currently some confusion, caused by this page on Eurostar's website.
The page says that you can't bring skis onto ordinary Eurostars without paying extra. Fortunately, that isn't true.
Travelling to a ski resort is never quick, whether you go by plane, train or car. And surprisingly perhaps, if you are taking a train down to the Tarentaise region of the Alps, it takes about the same time as flying - sometimes quicker. You are going to spend around 8-9 hours getting there, however you go (and that is without flight delays)
But how does the cost of travelling independently the Alps by train compare with flying?
Not many people know this, but if you have bought a Eurostar ticket, either for the Ski Train or a Eurostar to Paris, you can get discounts on domestic travel to London St Pancras.
The service, which is only available on the phone, not only gets you discounted travel to London; it also gives you the reassurance that if your regional UK train or your returning Eurostar trains are delayed or cancelled your onward carrier will reaccommodate you even if you have chosen to buy an ordinarily "fixed" ticket.
We’ve spent the past couple of weeks on a lot of trains, with our luggage and some far-too-numerous bags of camera equipment. Why? To film journeys to great ski resorts in France, Switzerland and Austria, and the skiing when you get there. It’s been a Winterrail adventure, and one of the things that struck us most while travelling was the fun that can be had on the train.