Booking trains for Easter skiing
Here's some advice about booking trains to go skiing at Easter
Perhaps you're thinking about a ski holiday by train at Easter. Or have just booked accommodation and now want to book train travel. What would be the best thing to do about trains?
No special Eurostar service at Easter
No special Eurostar service at Easter
If you follow this blog or are a delighted subscriber to the Snowcarbon newsletter, you'll already be aware that this season there is no direct Eurostar Ski Train, and its replacement, Eurostar Snow, only runs until 4th February 2024. That’s because Eurostar, bizarrely, was unable to come up with a dedicated ski service that it could run throughout the ski season. Eurostar (the corporate entity), has considerably ‘form’ in not consulting much with the outside world when planning its ski services, unfortunately.
Anyway, let’s assume that your journey involves a Eurostar and TGV (which is also a fine way to travel).
The Eurostar portion of your journey (London – Paris or possibly London – Lille) is already on sale. But the onward, TGV portion, is not on sale yet. As was foretold, TGV trains for that period go on sale on Wednesday 24th January 2024 (at about 5am UK time).
But you can already:
1. think about journey options
2. see prices for the Eurostar legs of your journey
3. book the Eurostar legs of your journey, if you want to
What’s annoying is that rail companies don’t publish timetables until trains go on sale, even though they probably know the predicted timetable.
Three useful things in terms of thinking about timetables in advance
1. Snowcarbon’s Journey Planner show predicted timetable (our prediction, not a guarantee). Pick the resort you are travelling to, and then filter by date. The Journey Planner shows some recommended jourenys, not all the possible journey options.
2. To get another view of what journey options are likely, pick the same day of the week that you want to travel, but choose a date in March where trains are already on sale (such as Sat 16 March). Then look up journey options that are live for those dates using a website such as Trainline or Rail Europe**
3. Journey options at Easter are likely to be similar to journey options earlier in the season. If they differ, they won’t differ by a great deal. You might find additional direct services between Paris or Lille and your destination or you might find fewer. But either way, you are likely to find a good, viable journey.
*one thing to note about the different between Trainline and Rail Europe is that once a train is sold out, the Rail Europe site stops showing it at all (which is annoying) whereas the Trainline site still shows it, but says ‘sold out’ (which is helpful).
**definitely don’t put your faith in either Trainline or Rail Europe – or any one source –as reliably showing you all the options. Cross reference a few sources.
Booking in advance, and being wary of blunt algorithms
Several months ago I wrote a blog about the choice of booking your Eurostar before your TGV. The advice I would give, in this respect, hasn’t changed. And a blog about how rail-booking algorithms don't always serve the traveller well and how results can differ on different rail-booking websites.
Forewarned is forearmed, and all that.
Remember that in general, a good methodology when looking up journey options is to start with the whole journey (from London St Pancras to the station you want to go to in the Alps). Then also try breaking the journey down into smaller units. This is how to stop blunt algorithms from hiding journey options.
Apart from booking online, another option is to ask an independent rail-booking agent to help you book.
Two useful rail websites with information about journeys and booking are:
Hopefully this article is a little bit useful, do get in touch if you have questions and I’ll try to help.