All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Plane vs train - price comparison

Many skiers mistakenly believe that although travelling by train is more comfortable, enjoyable and environmentally friendly, it must be much more expensive.  But is that really true? Ski journalist and snowcarbon Founder, Daniel Elkan, has carried out a groundbreaking piece of research, comparing independent prices.


photo:Eurostar

Plane vs train - price comparison

Which is more expensive:  flying to the Alps, or travelling by train? To show a true reflection of the differences in price to a variety of ski resorts, this study carefully researched and calculated prices from London.

The price research was carried out on 14th September, taking prices from easyJet and from Eurostar.  Two Eurostar routes were measured: the daytime Direct Eurostar Ski Train and the daytime Eurostar to Lyon, plus local train.


Example findings from the research

introduction photo:Daniel Elkan

1.    A family of four with two children (aged between 4 and 11) but without skis would pay a total of £1,956 for return air travel to La Plagne at Easter. Travelling on the direct Eurostar Ski Train instead, they would pay £1,132 – a saving of £824. Travelling via Lyon, meanwhile, would cost them only £756 in total.
2.    A group of four friends travelling to Meribel on 9th January, two with skis and two without, would pay £972 in total. Travelling on the direct Eurostar Ski Train would cost them £788, while travelling via Lyon instead would cost £644.
3.    Travelling to the resort of Les Gets at Feb half term, a family of four with kids aged between four and 11, travelling without skis would pay £2,882, in total. By contrast, travelling on the new train route via Lyon would cost them only £1,252 – less than half the price.
4.    Air travel for a Christmas escape would cost an adult couple, both bringing skis, £630. If they opted for the direct Ski Train, the cost would be higher, at £674. However, travelling via Lyon would cost them only £466.
5.    Calculated over the whole season, the average weekly cost for an adult travelling by plane to Alpe d’Huez, without skis, is £240. This compares to an average cost of £202 for adults travelling by train, via Lyon.
 


Plane vs Train prices - price comparison table

Here are the results of the research that we did. All prices are for return journeys, starting from either Gatwick Airport or St Pancras International station, to the accommodation door. The three possible journeys tested below are:

  • EasyJet flight + shared taxi transfer
  • Daytime travel on the direct Eurostar Ski Train + private taxi
  • Daytime travel on the new direct Eurostar service to Lyon + local train + private taxi.
Ski destination Return journey Fly + taxi Eurostar Ski Train Eurostar via Lyon
London to Departure date Adult no skis Child no skis Adult with skis Child with skis Adult Child Adult Child
La Plagne 19 December 2015 £255 £242 £315 £302 £329 £237 £225 £154
La Plagne 26 December 2015 £465 £452 £525 £512 sold out sold out £289 £199
La Plagne 02 January 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £225 £164 £174 £119
La Plagne 09 January 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £195 £143 £159 £108
La Plagne 16 January 2016 £203 £190 £263 £250 £265 £192 £159 £108
La Plagne 23 January 2016 £223 £210 £283 £270 £329 £237 £165 £112
La Plagne 30 January 2016 £215 £202 £275 £262 £282 £204 £159 £108
La Plagne 06 February 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £215 £157 £159 £108
La Plagne 13 February 2016 £773 £760 £833 £820 sold out sold out £374 £248
La Plagne 20 February 2016 £202 £189 £262 £249 £195 £143 £159 £108
La Plagne 27 February 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 £205 £150 £159 £108
La Plagne 05 March 2016 £245 £232 £305 £292 £235 £171 £159 £108
La Plagne 12 March 2016 £218 £205 £278 £265 £235 £171 £165 £112
La Plagne 19 March 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £174 £128 £179 £122
La Plagne 26 March 2016 £490 £477 £550 £537 £429 £307 £201 £138
La Plagne 02 April 2016 £496 £483 £556 £543 £329 £237 £224 £154
Les Arcs 19 December 2015 £255 £242 £315 £302 £319 £227 £215 £144
Les Arcs 26 December 2015 £465 £452 £525 £512 sold out sold out £279 £189
Les Arcs 02 January 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £215 £154 £164 £109
Les Arcs 09 January 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £185 £133 £149 £98
Les Arcs 16 January 2016 £203 £190 £263 £250 £255 £182 £149 £98
Les Arcs 23 January 2016 £223 £210 £283 £270 £319 £227 £155 £102
Les Arcs 30 January 2016 £215 £202 £275 £262 £272 £194 £149 £98
Les Arcs 06 February 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £205 £147 £149 £98
Les Arcs 13 February 2016 £773 £760 £833 £820 sold out sold out £364 £238
Les Arcs 20 February 2016 £202 £189 £262 £249 £185 £133 £149 £98
Les Arcs 27 February 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 £195 £140 £149 £98
Les Arcs 05 March 2016 £245 £232 £305 £292 £225 £161 £149 £98
Les Arcs 12 March 2016 £218 £205 £278 £265 £225 £161 £155 £102
Les Arcs 19 March 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £164 £118 £169 £112
Les Arcs 26 March 2016 £490 £477 £550 £537 £419 £297 £191 £128
Les Arcs 02 April 2016 £496 £483 £556 £543 £319 £227 £214 £144
Ski destination Return journey Fly + taxi Eurostar Ski Train Eurostar via Lyon
London to Departure date Adult no skis Child no skis Adult with skis Child with skis Adult Child Adult Child
Meribel 19 December 2015 £255 £242 £315 £302 £331 £239 £227 £156
Meribel 26 December 2015 £465 £452 £525 £512 sold out sold out £291 £201
Meribel 02 January 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £227 £166 £176 £121
Meribel 09 January 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £197 £145 £161 £110
Meribel 16 January 2016 £203 £190 £263 £250 £267 £194 £161 £110
Meribel 23 January 2016 £223 £210 £283 £270 £331 £239 £167 £114
Meribel 30 January 2016 £215 £202 £275 £262 £284 £206 £161 £110
Meribel 06 February 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £217 £159 £161 £110
Meribel 13 February 2016 £773 £760 £833 £820 sold out sold out £376 £250
Meribel 20 February 2016 £202 £189 £262 £249 £197 £145 £161 £110
Meribel 27 February 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 £207 £152 £161 £110
Meribel 05 March 2016 £245 £232 £305 £292 £237 £173 £161 £110
Meribel 12 March 2016 £218 £205 £278 £265 £237 £173 £167 £114
Meribel 19 March 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £176 £130 £181 £124
Meribel 26 March 2016 £490 £477 £550 £537 £431 £309 £203 £140
Meribel 02 April 2016 £496 £483 £556 £543 £331 £239 £226 £156
Val d'Isere 19 December 2015 £255 £242 £315 £302 £337 £245 £233 £162
Val d'Isere 26 December 2015 £465 £452 £525 £512 sold out sold out £297 £207
Val d'Isere 02 January 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £233 £172 £182 £127
Val d'Isere 09 January 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £203 £151 £167 £116
Val d'Isere 16 January 2016 £203 £190 £263 £250 £273 £200 £167 £116
Val d'Isere 23 January 2016 £223 £210 £283 £270 £337 £245 £173 £120
Val d'Isere 30 January 2016 £215 £202 £275 £262 £290 £212 £167 £116
Val d'Isere 06 February 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £223 £165 £167 £116
Val d'Isere 13 February 2016 £773 £760 £833 £820 sold out sold out £382 £256
Val d'Isere 20 February 2016 £202 £189 £262 £249 £203 £151 £167 £116
Val d'Isere 27 February 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 £213 £158 £167 £116
Val d'Isere 05 March 2016 £245 £232 £305 £292 £243 £179 £167 £116
Val d'Isere 12 March 2016 £218 £205 £278 £265 £243 £179 £173 £120
Val d'Isere 19 March 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £182 £136 £187 £130
Val d'Isere 26 March 2016 £490 £477 £550 £537 £437 £315 £209 £146
Val d'Isere 02 April 2016 £496 £483 £556 £543 £337 £245 £232 £162
Ski destination Return journey Fly + taxi Eurostar Ski Train Eurostar via Lyon
London to Departure date Adult no skis Child no skis Adult with skis Child with skis Adult Child Adult Child
Val Thorens 19 December 2015 £255 £242 £315 £302 £344 £252 £240 £169
Val Thorens 26 December 2015 £465 £452 £525 £512 sold out sold out £304 £214
Val Thorens 02 January 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £240 £179 £189 £134
Val Thorens 09 January 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £210 £158 £174 £123
Val Thorens 16 January 2016 £203 £190 £263 £250 £280 £207 £174 £123
Val Thorens 23 January 2016 £223 £210 £283 £270 £344 £252 £180 £127
Val Thorens 30 January 2016 £215 £202 £275 £262 £297 £219 £174 £123
Val Thorens 06 February 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 £230 £172 £174 £123
Val Thorens 13 February 2016 £773 £760 £833 £820 sold out sold out £389 £263
Val Thorens 20 February 2016 £202 £189 £262 £249 £210 £158 £174 £123
Val Thorens 27 February 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 £220 £165 £174 £123
Val Thorens 05 March 2016 £245 £232 £305 £292 £250 £186 £174 £123
Val Thorens 12 March 2016 £218 £205 £278 £265 £250 £186 £180 £127
Val Thorens 19 March 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 £189 £143 £194 £137
Val Thorens 26 March 2016 £490 £477 £550 £537 £444 £322 £216 £153
Val Thorens 02 April 2016 £496 £483 £556 £543 £344 £252 £239 £169
Alpe d'Huez 19 December 2015 £268 £255 £328 £315 Not applicable Not applicable £233 £170
Alpe d'Huez 26 December 2015 £435 £422 £495 £482 Not applicable Not applicable £297 £215
Alpe d'Huez 02 January 2016 £218 £205 £278 £265 Not applicable Not applicable £182 £135
Alpe d'Huez 09 January 2016 £190 £177 £250 £237 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £124
Alpe d'Huez 16 January 2016 £188 £175 £248 £235 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £124
Alpe d'Huez 23 January 2016 £197 £184 £257 £244 Not applicable Not applicable £173 £128
Alpe d'Huez 30 January 2016 £195 £182 £255 £242 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £124
Alpe d'Huez 06 February 2016 £227 £214 £287 £274 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £124
Alpe d'Huez 13 February 2016 £602 £589 £662 £649 Not applicable Not applicable £382 £264
Alpe d'Huez 20 February 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £124
Alpe d'Huez 27 February 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £124
Alpe d'Huez 05 March 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £124
Alpe d'Huez 12 March 2016 £192 £179 £252 £239 Not applicable Not applicable £173 £128
Alpe d'Huez 19 March 2016 £250 £237 £310 £297 Not applicable Not applicable £187 £138
Alpe d'Huez 26 March 2016 £484 £471 £544 £531 Not applicable Not applicable £209 £154
Alpe d'Huez 02 April 2016 £369 £356 £429 £416 Not applicable Not applicable £232 £170
Ski destination Return journey Fly + taxi Eurostar Ski Train Eurostar via Lyon
London to Departure date Adult no skis Child no skis Adult with skis Child with skis Adult Child Adult Child
Les Gets 19 December 2015 £209 £196 £269 £256 Not applicable Not applicable £227 £156
Les Gets 26 December 2015 £419 £406 £479 £466 Not applicable Not applicable £291 £201
Les Gets 02 January 2016 £186 £173 £246 £233 Not applicable Not applicable £176 £121
Les Gets 09 January 2016 £167 £154 £227 £214 Not applicable Not applicable £161 £110
Les Gets 16 January 2016 £157 £144 £217 £204 Not applicable Not applicable £161 £110
Les Gets 23 January 2016 £177 £164 £237 £224 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £114
Les Gets 30 January 2016 £169 £156 £229 £216 Not applicable Not applicable £161 £110
Les Gets 06 February 2016 £167 £154 £227 £214 Not applicable Not applicable £161 £110
Les Gets 13 February 2016 £727 £714 £787 £774 Not applicable Not applicable £376 £250
Les Gets 20 February 2016 £156 £143 £216 £203 Not applicable Not applicable £161 £110
Les Gets 27 February 2016 £153 £140 £213 £200 Not applicable Not applicable £161 £110
Les Gets 05 March 2016 £199 £186 £259 £246 Not applicable Not applicable £161 £110
Les Gets 12 March 2016 £172 £159 £232 £219 Not applicable Not applicable £167 £114
Les Gets 19 March 2016 £186 £173 £246 £233 Not applicable Not applicable £181 £124
Les Gets 26 March 2016 £444 £431 £504 £491 Not applicable Not applicable £203 £140
Les Gets 02 April 2016 £450 £437 £510 £497 Not applicable Not applicable £226 £156
Val Cenis 19 December 2015 £299 £286 £359 £346 Not applicable Not applicable £225 £154
Val Cenis 26 December 2015 £404 £391 £464 £451 Not applicable Not applicable £289 £199
Val Cenis 02 January 2016 £248 £235 £308 £295 Not applicable Not applicable £174 £119
Val Cenis 09 January 2016 £213 £200 £273 £260 Not applicable Not applicable £159 £108
Val Cenis 16 January 2016 £224 £211 £284 £271 Not applicable Not applicable £159 £108
Val Cenis 23 January 2016 £230 £217 £290 £277 Not applicable Not applicable £165 £112
Val Cenis 30 January 2016 £217 £204 £277 £264 Not applicable Not applicable £159 £108
Val Cenis 06 February 2016 £235 £222 £295 £282 Not applicable Not applicable £159 £108
Val Cenis 13 February 2016 £688 £675 £748 £735 Not applicable Not applicable £374 £248
Val Cenis 20 February 2016 £232 £219 £292 £279 Not applicable Not applicable £159 £108
Val Cenis 27 February 2016 £222 £209 £282 £269 Not applicable Not applicable £159 £108
Val Cenis 05 March 2016 £227 £214 £287 £274 Not applicable Not applicable £159 £108
Val Cenis 12 March 2016 £224 £211 £284 £271 Not applicable Not applicable £165 £112
Val Cenis 19 March 2016 £306 £293 £366 353 Not applicable Not applicable £179 £122
Val Cenis 26 March 2016 £476 £463 £536 523 Not applicable Not applicable £201 £138
Val Cenis 02 April 2016 £382 £369 £442 429 Not applicable Not applicable £224 £154

 


Infographic showing examples

 


How we did this research

1. The research was carried out on 14th September 2015 to provide a shapshot of prices for the 2015-16 ski season.  Although flight and train prices change gradually everyday, this data should give you a useful indication of the differences betweeen the various options.  By the start of September, trains have been on sale for six weeks, and flights for longer, so these are not the 'lead in' fares advertised by airlines and train operators that you can often get (for low season dates) when booking opens.

2. Flights quoted were all easyJet prices from Gatwick.  Flying from Luton or Stanstead were very similar prices.  We didn't check other airlines or airports, as the amount of data would be been overwhelming.

3. To provide a like-for-like comparison in terms of departure and arrival time in resort.  On the outbound we chose the cheapest flight departing after 8am from Gatwick, and landing before 6pm (in order to reach resort at a reasonable time); on the inbound we chose any flight departing Europe after 10am and landing in Gatwick up until 7pm.  So if there was a cheaper flight departing Gatwick at 6am, for example, and therefore requiring you to stay up all night to catch, it isn't included here. 

4. Child prices for train travel are valid for children aged 4-11 (children under four years old can travel for free, without a reserved place). On Easyjet children above two years old pay the same fare as adults.

5. The resorts were chosen to provide a typical range of destinations accessible by either the direct Eurostar Ski Train or the Eurostar via Lyon train options. Prices to other resorts in the French Alps will be similar.


Like more help and advice?

luggage on trains photo:Daniel Elkan

If you'd like more help and advice the best train travel options, resorts and accommodation, feel free to contact Snowcarbon's founder, Daniel. 

He can help with specific advice and suggestions for the most suitable train travel options, resorts and accommodation.

Just send Daniel an email and he'll be back in touch.