All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Free ski and snowboard carriage on Eurostar - confirmed!

Fri 18 January, 2013

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.

But though this is the case, it has for months been the subject of some confusion, because of incorrect/unclear information on the luggage page of Eurostar's website, which we had told them about - becaue clearly skiers and snowboarders continue to ask questions about this, to us and on ski forums like Snowheads, J2Ski and Snowvole.

This week, snowboarder Hayley and her husband, who are travelling by Eurostar to Paris and TGV to Bourg St Maurice, saw Eurostar's luggage page and got worried. The page told them that for ordinary Eurostars to Paris, anything over 85cm (snowbladers can relax here) would have to be folded (ouch!) or sent via the chargeable Eurodespatch service.  Hayley also read our guide to luggage, which explains about the incorrect information in Eurostar's page.

Hayley emailed Snowcarbon, one of quite a few emails that we receive on this subject:

“Not sure whether you can help but I was just wondering how recent your info on taking snowboards on ordinary eurostar trains to paris is?
“We are going London to Bourg St Maurice via eurostar to paris and then tgv to bourg this weekend - from looking on eurostars faq I worked out the same as you have stated - you can take boards but as part of the normal 2 cases baggage allowance, albeit their website states "skis" with no mention of snowboards (I figured they wouldnt be so petty to distinguish boards from skis?!).
“However, I thought I would double check with eurostar and they have emailed me back and said I cannot take snowboards on the train as I am changing at paris! Any ideas? Thinking I was unlucky and got through to someone in customer services that has no idea and il just turn up with my board anyway but dont want to get turned away!”

Hayley had also emailed Eurostar, after her husband had phoned to try to clarify the situation and been asked to email them instead:

"Thank you for your e mail, unfortunately when making a change in Paris, it is not possible to take as part of your luggage. Bellow are a few numbers that may help.
Euro dispatch - 0207 8437752 - they can help as far as Paris (worth checking with then about next part of journey)
Rail Europe - 0844 8484064 - may be able to help with next part of journey
another really use full web site for advice is www.seat61.com
I hope you can find a suitable solution"

Now I’ve taken my huge snowboard bag to Paris many, many times. You can see me take it when I challenged Neil English to a train vs plane race to the Three Valleys. But I spoke with Hayley and promised that I would take my snowboard bag to St Pancras that evening and prove that you can take snowboards on Eurostars to Paris. Here I am at the desk:

The staff were helpful and polite as ever, and said that skis and snowboards can be taken on trains to Paris. But what they told me next, shocked me:

“We see a lot of people arrive with skis and snowboards to go to Paris to change trains. And they can take their skis and snowboards on the ordinary Eurostars for free."

Then I contacted Eurostar head office and asked them to clarify the situation. This morning a Eurostar spokesperson told me:

"On normal services (i.e. non-ski services, to Paris) skis and ski equipment (snow boards) can be taken on board as part of a passenger’s allowance - even if they exceed 85cm.  (i.e. they are excluded from the general sports equipment policy) instead of one of the two suitcases you can bring. The information on our site hasn't been clear about this and we are going to change it now to make it clearer."

I.e. If you don't have skis you can bring two suitcases.  And if you do have skis, you can bring these instead of one of the cases.

This is the confirmation we - and Hayley and her husband - wanted to hear.

Have a great trip Hayley.