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Skiing by rail: Why taking the train is the sustainable and easy option

Skiing by rail: Why taking the train is the sustainable and easy option

If you’re keen to hit the slopes this winter but are, like many of us, conscious of your carbon footprint on the way, we have a solution.

Why not take a train to the mountains? It seems new services are popping up all the time. Two in particular, Eurostar Snow and Ferrovie dello Stato in Italy, have started running in the last months.

While hopping on a bargain flight might be tempting, the average flight to the French Alps from London airports emits just over 122 kilograms of CO2 per passenger.

That figure doesn’t even take into account the carbon cost of travelling to and from the airport, nor the environmental impact of the ski industry itself.

The Alpine slopes bring some 50 million tourists to France alone every year.

In contrast, an equivalent train journey produces up to 90 per cent less CO2 per person – just 12kg.

Trains can sometimes be a little more expensive but they’ll often get you closer to your snowy destination than a plane, meaning your journey is, in the long run, both easier and greener.

Here’s our guide to some of the best options for train travel for your skiing trip.

Why not see the bright lights of Val d’Isère the environmentally friendly way?
Why not see the bright lights of Val d’Isère the environmentally friendly way? - Kamala Bright via Unsplash

Eurostar Snow - London to the French Alps

The newly launched service from the well-known London to Paris line will take snow lovers directly to the resorts of Chambéry, Albertville, Moûtiers, Aime-La-Plagne, Landry and Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the French Alps.

Running until 6 April, those travelling from Brussels and Amsterdam can expect to pay from €55 and €65 for a one-way ticket.

It’s slightly more complicated for people travelling to the mountains from London St Pancras - but not prohibitively so.

Passengers will need to take one Eurostar to Lille in northern France, before switching to a TGV train which runs straight to the Alps.

Tickets for that service start at €116 one way. You’ll arrive right in the heart of the Alps, with easy access to ever-popular resorts including Courchevel, Val Thorens, Tignes and Val d’Isère.

You can now hop on the Eurostar all the way to the French Alps
You can now hop on the Eurostar all the way to the French Alps - Frederic Köberl via Unsplash

Ouigo’s Paris to Bourg-Saint-Maurice route

French low-cost operator Ouigo is back this ski season with its Grande Vitesse service which runs from Paris to Bourg-Saint-Maurice until 24 March.

It’s a speedy option too, leaving Paris Gare du Lyon at 10.42AM and arriving at Bourg Saint Maurice at 16.27PM.

This alternative is particularly green when you look at the journey from end to end.

Bourg lies at the foot of the famous Les Arcs skiing area. On arrival, a funicular railway takes you from the town to Arc 1600 ski resort in just seven minutes - meaning you can make your entire journey by rail.

Get to Les Arcs by rail alone with Ouigo’s Paris to Bourg-Saint-Maurice route
Get to Les Arcs by rail alone with Ouigo’s Paris to Bourg-Saint-Maurice route - Tomas Yates via Unsplash

Ferrovie dello Stato - Rome to the Dolomites

If you’re on a winter break to Rome or, indeed, if you live in the Eternal City, Italian rail company Ferrovie dello Stato has recently launched a service to the snow. The new Espresso Cadore sleeper train takes travellers from Rome to Cortina d’Ampezzo - a world-famous resort known as the Queen of the Dolomites.

Cortina was not just the home to Italy’s first Winter Olympics games in 1956, but will play host to them once more in 2026.

Running until 25 February, the sleeper will leave Rome Termini on Friday evenings at 9:40PM, arriving at Calalzo di Cadore just before 8:00AM the next morning.

From there, passengers will take a short bus ride to Cortina where they can get straight onto the snow.

A view of the iconic slopes of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
A view of the iconic slopes of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy - Betty Subrizi via Unsplash

Amsterdam to Austria with TUI's Ski Express

If you live in the Netherlands but love snow sports, there is little choice but to head to a more mountainous region to get your fix.

That’s where TUI’s ‘Ski Express’ train comes in. Now in its second year, the train, which leaves Amsterdam every Friday night until 31 March, links the Dutch capital to some of Austria’s biggest and best ski resorts.

Also stopping in Utrecht, it continues directly to the Austrian mountains.

A collaboration with GreenCityTrip, a Dutch startup offering rail travel across Europe, there is a slight catch.

If you want to ride this train, the only way is to book a TUI package holiday lasting 10 days.

However, if that’s not for you, the collaboration is constantly extending its offerings and it’s possible to hop on their night trains from the Netherlands to the likes of Copenhagen, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Milan and Florence.