Suspension of Eurostar ski train ‘catastrophic’ say no-fly activists | Rail travel

Campaigners have started a petition to save the popular ski train that connects London and the French Alps after Eurostar canceled service for this winter. The bi-weekly service generally operates between December and April from London St Pancras to 16 ski resorts, including Courchevel, Les Arcs, Tignes, Sainte Foy and Val d’Isère. It transports 24,000 people each season, takes eight hours to cover the 830 km to Bourg St Maurice, and offers a low carbon alternative to flying or driving.

A Eurostar spokesperson said the coronavirus had forced the decision, which was announced on July 8, in particular “the mandatory wearing of masks and significantly increased hygiene measures and high-frequency cleaning,” which are “more difficult to maintain on long distance routes”. . As a result, Eurostar has also canceled summer services to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille.

Eurostar added: “We are focusing our schedule on our routes between capitals, which have the highest customer demand at the moment and, shorter journey times. “

The SaveTheSkiTrain petition calls for service to be restored and is supported by green snow sports organizations including SnowCarbon, Ski Flight Free, SaveOurSnow and Protect Our Winters UK. He describes the decision as “catastrophic” for “the thousands of skiers who use this service and the climate crisis”.

Daniel Elkan, founder of the SnowCarbon website which helps skiers find train routes to the mountains, said: “The loss of the ski train is a huge step backwards for sustainability and travel. Eurostar has raised concerns about demand, but the ski train sells out hours after tickets go online. They could sell the train multiple times if they had a more engaging approach. We need direct long distance trains to compete with theft.

According to the Anthesis group, the London-Tignes train and taxi journey emits 18.47 kgCO2e per one-way passenger, against 78.44 kgCO2e for a Gatwick-Geneva flight, then Geneva-Tignes coach.

It will still be possible to reach a wide choice of French ski resorts from the UK by taking the Eurostar to Paris and changing to a TGV train, but Elkan maintains that “that does not make up for a direct service” , especially for the first time, long-distance train travelers.

“Eurostar has a monopoly on trains to Europe [for passengers from the UK], “he said.” So we need better. We are going to bring the whole ski industry together with one voice and ask Eurostar to rethink.

Xavier Schouller, president and founder of French Alps tour operator Peak Retreats, also expressed concerns about the move.

“The reaction of the ski industry, both from the operators and the customers we spoke to, really underlines that this is a short-sighted Eurostar decision,” said Schouller. “Given the current circumstances, many skiers will be looking to avoid flying, and it would have been a great opportunity to present the train to more skiers as a practical and viable alternative.

“The environmental benefits were already making it an increasingly popular route. Demand grows every year, and with the increase in inquiries and bookings for next season, it would have seemed logical to consult more widely and wait to assess demand rather than make a preemptive decision.

“We are already seeing many customers choosing to travel to the Alps, and we believe this abandonment of theft will only accelerate. Hopefully Eurostar will reconsider this decision soon. “

Cathy Rankin of Pierre & Vacances, French leader in ski accommodation, adds: “It’s a real shame for our customers in Les Arcs because the Eurostar Bourg St Maurice service was perfect for them. It is a very sad day for us.

Eurostar said it was too early to comment on the train’s return for the 2021/22 ski season.

This article has been edited to show carbon emissions for the entire journey from London to Tignes.

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