Austria is just too distant to succeed in by practice.
Properly, that’s what I assumed. However then, lastly, I really regarded on the timetables – and realised, no it isn’t. Particularly for those who dwell within the London space and also you’re and heading to one in every of Austria’s western ski resorts. And by “western ski resort” I don’t imply someplace obscure. I’m speaking about St Anton.
So, lastly, 22 years after I first glided by practice to the French Alps, I boarded a Eurostar at St Pancras, on the primary leg of a journey to the Austrian Tirol.
That is what I learnt en route.
1. You will get there in 12 hours, with solely two modifications
Admittedly, my cab to St Pancras got here at 4.30am. However at 6.01am I gliding out of the station on Eurostar. En route, I modified trains at Paris and Zurich, and arrived at St Anton am Arlberg at 7.01pm. Permitting for the time distinction, that was a 12 hour rail journey, with loads of time in Paris and Zurich for the modifications.
In truth, you possibly can generally discover faster journeys. Trainline this morning, I’ve discovered a 10hr 30minute journey with 4 modifications of practice.
Both method, it may be carried out in a day, for those who dwell in the correct a part of the UK. And it’s not a lot slower than flying, when you’ve accounted for journey time to the airport, ready within the departure lounge and getting a switch to your ski resort.
Why is it so quick? Partly, it’s as a result of the route makes use of France’s sensible high-speed railway community, from Calais to Paris after which from Paris to Dijon or Strasbourg. At one level on the SNCF’s direct TGV Lyria service to Zurich, we have been doing 267km/h. That’s 166mph.
The opposite motive for the velocity is St Anton’s railway station. The resort really owes its existence to the railway that was opened right here in 1883 – and it now sits straight on the principle line between Zurich and Innsbruck. This a part of the route winds alongside lakes and up mountain valleys, and isn’t particularly quick, besides, it delivers you to the center of the resort. A number of the accommodations are barey 5 minutes’ stroll from the platforms.
2. In Paris, RER line D makes the change between stations simple
Altering trains is the one important trouble of rail journey – hauling luggage, switching platforms, settling into your new seats with new passengers round you – and customarily talking the less instances you do it the higher. Besides, the change of trains in Paris from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon shouldn’t be practically so daunting as individuals suppose.
We have now RER line D to thank for that. It’s the Paris equal of London’s Crossrail, however with 5 strains not one (and it was completed in 1999). It’s clearly signposted, and the journey between the 2 stations, when you’re on board the practice, is eight minutes.
The one trouble is shopping for your ticket – however provided that you be a part of the queues that type on the first ticket machines you discover. As a substitute, stroll on, following the indicators to RER line D and purchase your ticket simply earlier than the limitations. It’s 100m or so additional on, and there’s often no queue.
It’s a lot faster and cheaper than taking a cab.
3. The WiFi on the TGV Lyria is sensible
I don’t understand how the French have carried out it – however for a high-speed practice TGV Lyria has remarkably dependable wifi. I did some fairly internet-intensive work utilizing it en route, and there have been not one of the normal head-banging moments of frustration you get on trains. My solely remorse was that I didn’t have entry to it for longer.
4. The views within the Alps are mind-blowing
You in all probability gained’t see a lot of the Alps on the outward leg to St Anton, which in winter you’ll attain after darkness falls. However on the return journey, as day breaks you’ll be glued to the window. That is correct, Hallelujah-Refrain territory.
5. St Anton am Arlberg is ready on the different finish
St Anton is likely one of the greats. Sitting fairly on the jap finish of the Arlberg, it’s plugged right into a community of greater than 300km of pistes, in addition to Austria’s feistiest lift-serviced off-piste snowboarding, and its most cosmopolitan nightlife. What’s extra, on the far finish of the carry system you’ll discover Warth. In a median winter extra snow falls there than in another Alpine ski village.
Not everybody will love the place. St Anton fits superior and knowledgeable skiers greatest (in addition to evening owls), but when fall into both of these classes, you’ll be buzzing as you pull into St Anton’s station on the finish of the rail journey. There’s no baggage carousel, no airport switch and no passport management (the checks are all again in London). You simply stroll out of the station and there it’s. The Alps all of the sudden appear extra accessible, much less unique and extra related to your regular life.
There’s one caveat although: once you e-book your St Anton resort, be sure it’s close to the railway station when you have a 6am practice coming residence. So you possibly can stroll there rapidly. If not, e-book your taxi effectively forward. My resort – Die Albergerin – was pretty – newly-refurbished with brilliant, ethereal rooms and good meals every evening in its wood-panelled restaurant (double rooms begin from €119pp, B&B). Nevertheless it was 25 minutes from the station on foot. The evening earlier than I travelled again to London, no St Anton cab firm would take a reserving for a time sooner than 6am, which is earlier than the (in any other case glorious) bus service begins. Ultimately, the stroll was no hassle. However it might have been extra of an journey with, say, 20-30cm of snow on the bottom.
6. Better of all, the journey shrinks your carbon footprint
In keeping with analysis by sustainability specialists Anthesis, on behalf of rail-travel web site snowcarbon.co.uk, rail journey to the slopes – versus flights – can cut back the carbon footprint of your journey by as much as 60%. Provided that greater than half the carbon emissions produced by ski resorts are considered generated by transport to and round them, that’s important, So too the truth that all lodging within the resort is powered by native hydro-electric schemes. In different phrases, you’re doing much more than green-washing your journey.
If solely each ski vacation might be like this.
So let’s hope they discover a approach to make the tickets cheaper
Identical to flight costs, the worth of practice tickets bobbles round in all places, and that uncertainty is amplified by the completely different nationwide and worldwide providers it’s important to knit collectively. So it’s exhausting to generalise about the fee.
Generally, the practice could be cheaper. On the time of writing I plucked Wednesday, March 1 out the blue as a date for outbound journey, London to St Anton, and located a one-way ticket for £166.11 on Trainline (most nonetheless value greater than £200). In the meantime, on easyjet.com, flight tickets have been nearly offered out and exorbitant if not – £336, a technique, and that’s excluding your baggage and your switch to St Anton
However for Tuesday, February 28, the costs have been very completely different. The practice was £166.11 and an easyjet flight to Innsbruck £24.99 (excluding the extras).
Given the pressing want for us all to cut back our carbon footprints, we have to discover a approach to wrestle these rail costs down…
Learn extra about rail journey to Austria
And listed here are extra recommendations on making your subsequent ski vacation extra sustainable.