Ski resorts by train

Snowcarbon Journey Planner 2019-20 is ready

Fri 12 April, 2019


Daniel Elkan

Travel, if you think about it, can be divided into three steps: 

1.    Planning your journey
2.    Buying your tickets
3.    Travelling

Train companies tend to act as if Step 1 (planning your journey) and Step 2 (buying your tickets) are the same thing. Because - as you might well know from experience - train companies don’t publish train timetables until the trains are actually on sale.

This means that as soon as you are given the opportunity to see timetables on their websites to research your potential journey, the price of tickets is already going up.

That’s generally quite annoying and feels counterproductive to a well-organised trip:  it gives you zero time between working out whether the rail journey suits you (and the rest your party) and whether the price is acceptable.

You of course, quite rightly want to take the time to think about what works for you and your group, and be able to consult with them in advance of needing to book tickets. 

Imagine going to a restaurant where you are seated at a table and wait for a while before being finally given the menu.  But as you peruse the menu, you see the prices of the dishes are increading before your very eyes - before you’ve even ordered. I can’t think of any other industry where this happens. It doesn’t really make sense to do this.

What’s more, train schedules vary little year on year.  In about 95% of cases, they change by only a few minutes per year. So train companies could at least show you timetables from the previous year, to show you what you can very probably do, with a proviso that no schedule is guaranteed until tickets are on sale. But the train companies don’t do this.  They keep travellers waiting in the dark until tickets are on sale.

However, for skiers and snowboarders, there is a solution. It’s called the Snowcarbon Journey Planner: for every ski resort listed on Snowcarbon, you can view some of the best journey schedules, up to one year in advance – and months before tickets go on sale.

Each season, the creation of the Snowcarbon Journey Planner is the result of many, many hours of research and inputting by me (Daniel, Snowcarbon’s Founder). After more than 20 years of experience travelling to ski resorts by train, I’ve personally travelled on almost every train that is included in the journey planner – been to every train station, which gives the advantage that I know what all these journeys are like. That’s made easier because I’m not trying to show an infinite number of journeys.  Just the best schedules between the UK and the Alps, for any day of the week. You can interrogate the Journey Planner with the specific dates you are looking to travel, or just browse all the journeys to a specific resort. The Journey Planner doesn’t contain every possible journey that you could make to a destination, but it contains the best ones (in my judgement).  (The photo below is me looking gormless and a cat I've made friends with, while on holiday in Morroco, working on the Journey Planner)

The data is from a number of sources, including the wonderful European Rail Timetable, rail operators’ websites (during the season) and rail-industry timetable resources.  The research and inputting is labour intensive, but I love knowing that every bit of research I do, every journey that I put into the planner, will help thousands of skiers discover what’s possible and enable many scenic, sustainable, enjoyable journeys to the Alps by train. 

The Journey Planner is now ready for the 2019-20 season – I hope you find it useful and please feel free to contact me with any questions on any aspect of it.