All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Predicted ski and snow train prices for 2015-16

Sun 15 March, 2015


Daniel Elkan

For the 2015-16 season, two important questions are: ‘How much will independent train travel cost, and when can you book it?'
This blog will help answer those questions. 
Now, anyone who grew up watching the TV series ‘Tomorrow’s World’ will know that predictions are not an exact science.  Paper pants, floating bicycles and the snooker robot never quite took off.  Certainly the first two don’t work well in combination – as I found out on a beach holiday once. 
Fortunately, however, predicting train fares from London to the Alps is a bit easier: prices don’t change much year to year, and during the 2014-15 season I monitored fares and collected a lot of data on which to base predictions.

‘Starting fares’ and realistic fares
The table below shows realistic predicted prices – and you’ll see a very marked difference between peak weeks and non-peak weeks.  Now, Eurostar will tell you in its marketing and PR communications that prices start from £149 return.  And SNCF will tell you that journeys with the Eurostar and TGV, for example, start from £109 return.  What these communications don’t make clear is that for peak dates there is no chance that you will get these ‘starting’ fares.  None. Nada. For all intents and purposes, these fares do not exist for peak weeks.  Even if you try and book the minute tickets go onsale. I’ve tried it.  So the distinction between peak and non-peak prices is important to make - and we believe that train companies should make this clearer in their communications.

Train Xmas 2015 New Year Feb half-term Easter All other dates
Eurostar Ski Train (day) £300 - £350  £400* £400** £300 - £400 £150 - £240
Eurostar Ski Train (night) £300 £300 - £400 £350 - £400 £250 - £300 £150 - £220
Eurostar + TGV £300 - £400 £300 - £450 £300 - £450 £250 - £350 £110 - £250
Eurostar + sleeper train £300 - £400 £400 £400 - £450 £350 - £400 £170 - £280
*sells out within a few days of going on sale
**sells out within 24 hours of going on sale
NB: fares for children aged 4-11 will be about 30% less.

Now, the general rule is that rail fares gradually rise nearer to the date of travel as the cheaper tickets get sell out. On non-peak dates you can get some excellent fares without needing to jump in and book the moment tickets go on sale, because the prices rise only gradually.  However, on peak dates, fares start high immediately -  and stay high.  And indeed, at feb half term and New Year, the daytime Eurostar Ski Train actually sells out completely pretty soon after going on sale.

When can you book?

This is important to know, of course.  The train companies don’t announce the exact dates that trains will go on sale until nearer the time. The table below provides some guidance - and we'll announce the exact dates once we know.

Train Goes on sale How far in advance can you book
Eurostar Ski Train (day) End of July 2015 All dates of the season
Eurostar Ski Train (night) End of July 2015 All dates of the season
Eurostar + TGV October 2015 Approx 90 days ahead
Eurostar + sleeper train October 2015 Approx 90 days ahead