Campaign to Save the Ski Train

It has been going since 1997 but has hit the buffers after Eurostar cancelled it for next winter. It has blamed coronavirus, but some think this is exactly the moment when train travel could be a viable alternative to flying.

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Eurostar usually runs direct day trains to the French Alps on Saturdays between December-April as well as direct night trains on Fridays from January-April.

It had been thought train travel might be a safer and more popular option for people to get to the Alps in the coronavirus world if they did not want to fly.

Some predicted a boom in train travel to the mountains for next winter.

Eurostar has taken a different view.

“As we restart our service, we are focusing our timetable on our routes between capital cities, which have the highest demand from customers at the moment and shorter journey times. We have therefore decided we will not be running our ski service in the 2020/21 winter season,” said a Eurostar spokesman to PlanetSKI on Wednesday.

“We always work to provide a comfortable experience on board for our travellers, and whilst our services operate with restrictions on food service, the compulsory wearing of masks, and significantly increased hygiene measures and high-frequency cleaning, these standards are more challenging to maintain on long distance routes.”

Some believe skiers and snowboarder would want more low-carbon ways to travel to the mountains.

The Eurostar results in a fraction of the emissions of an equivalent journey by plane or car.

More and more travellers are loooking at cutting back on flights and looking for low-carbon transport, while many more are seemingly reluctant to fly in cramped cabins again due to Covid-19.

Here on PlanetSKI we broke the news yesterday ahead of all other news outlets, Eurostar cancels ski train for next winter

The Campaign

Now the web site that promotes train travel to the mountains, Snowcarbon, has joined forces with Protect Our Winter, Save Our Winters and Ski Flight Free to try to get it reinstated.

“What a bonkers decision, made seemingly without any consultation of skiers or the ski industry.  Eurostar has a track record, no pun intended, of launching and cancelling services without consulting,” said the founder of Snowcarbon, Daniel Elkan.

“It did it with the Eurostar Lyon winter service in 2014. Then it did it with the Swiss service in 2016.  Each time getting things disastrously wrong.

“The Ski Train to the French Alps, however, has been running successfully since 1997.  What a terrible decision to cancel it now, without consultation

“But the thing about decisions, is that they can be reversed.”

Transport is by far the biggest environmental factor of a ski holiday.

A 2010 study by Alpine-sustainability charity Mountain Riders found that 57% of the entire carbon footprint of a typical French ski resort was solely the result of transport of holidaymakers to the resort.

The campaign was launched on Thursday morning.

The petition

The Facebook campaign page

Environmental Impact

With 750 skiers on each train, the Friday overnight and Saturday daytime services carry a total of 24,000 holidaymakers every winter.

The daytime train makes the 830km trip from London to Bourg St Maurice in just over eight hours and is frequently faster than flying when compared door to door — with an estimated 80% reduction in CO2 emissions.

Dominic Winter, Manager of environmental charity Protect Our Winters UK, says: “The future of snow sports and the wider planet depend on us switching rapidly to more sustainable modes of transport. The loss of the Ski Train would be a huge blow to progress on climate change in outdoor sports”.

Key facts:

  • Per season, the ski train saves an estimated 3.1 million kg of CO2 emissions compared to flying. (source: Best Foot Forward/Anthesis Group 2010)
  • Ski resorts served by the Ski Train:
    Couchevel, Doucy, La Rosière, La Plagne, La Tania, Les Arcs, Les Menuires, Méribel, Peisey – Vallandry, Sainte Foy, St Martin de Belleville, Tignes, Val d’Isère, Val Thorens and Valmorel.
  • For the previous two seasons, for February half term, the Ski Train sold out within five hours of tickets going on sale.

The Save The Ski Train campaign will create a voice for skiers, snowboarders and the ski industry together to try to persuade Eurostar to put the Ski Train back on.

“Eurostar’s decision is premature and seemingly made without any consultation of skiers or the ski industry”, said Daniel Elkan.

“There’s still time to think again.”

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