A fast, comfortable, and first and foremost, eco-friendly train, a marvellous alternative to flying has now come to an end.
2020 has certainly challenged us all to be patient. We had to take a break from our passion for skiing and stand together for the greater good of the country to fight a global pandemic. Resorts are opening back up and the winter season for Europe is looking promising, but now we are faced with a new challenge, with a cancellation that will be detrimental to the European ski community. The ski train has been cancelled! The train takes skiers and boarders from the UK and Ashford to 16 ski resorts, including Val d’Isère, Les Arcs and Tignes.
Eurostar has dropped this service for the upcoming season 20/21 with coronavirus appearing to be the main cause. They claim hygiene measures and compulsory wearing of masks are a serious challenge for the maintenance of long distance routes and they will be redirecting routes due to the highest demand among customers*.
Great Britain has a huge winter sports community and they aren’t taking it that easily. The ski train has been sold out in the first 5 hours the past two seasons, therefore the conversation this year should have been turned to adding more services on this route, rather than this.
How can you help stop this?
The campaign “Save the ski Train” has been launched to pressure Eurostar to resume their services. Behind Save The Ski Train we find well-known charities and organisations that are in supported and in dialogue with Ratoong such as Protect Our Winters, Snowcarbon, Ski Flight Free and SaveOurSnow**. Together, they are the voice of the snow lovers and ski industry to fight to bring the Ski train back.
The train has been operating since 1997 in a twice-weekly service from December to April. With 750 skiers on each train, it carried a total of approximately 24,000 snow lovers every season. One thing for sure about the ski Train is its proven success. The Snow Train’s popularity was actually increasing in the last few years, and it is due to the eco-friendliness nature of the service. An overland (one-way) journey from London to Tignes emits 18.47kgCO2e per passenger, while 78.44kgCO2e are emitted for a flight from Gatwick to Geneva**. Let that sink in for a moment. This meant a huge step in the right direction for ski lovers wanting to protect their precious planet and the future of winters, however taking such a backtrack in these sustainable efforts is not the answer.
A 2010 study by Alpine-sustainability charity Mountain Riders found that 57 per cent of the entire carbon footprint of a typical French ski resort was solely the result of transport to the resort**.
Now more than ever is the time to rethink the way we do things and shift into a more sustainable and resilient model. And it doesn’t have to be a new way to do things. In fact, going back to habits of the past. Studies like the above have led to the reinstating of the old train lines across Europe and today you can find several trains taking riders all around to the resorts. Another favourite for the Scandinavian riders is the Nortlander giving riders the option to do ski trips by train to Austria, France and Italy. These motions forward need to continue. Not to be terminated.
Being faced with a health crisis that has led us into an economic crisis should not give us the liberty to make the very real environmental crisis any less focus.
Dominic Winter, manager of environmental charity Protect Our Winters UK, says: ‘The future of snow sports and the wider planet depend on us switching rapidly to more sustainable modes of transport. The loss of the Ski Train would be a huge blow to progress on climate change in outdoor sports.’
On Ratoong you can rate the sustainability of resorts based on 3 different UN sustainability goals. Section 6: Clean Water and Sanitation: Analyzing how ski resorts provide clean water for skiers as well as visible saving water efforts. This includes things such as water bottle fill up stations, snow making water reserves, rainwater collection systems etc. Section 7: Renewable Energy: Is the resort providing clean energy and working to save energy at their resort? This includes things such as: Are there clean energy sources at the resort or nearby? How is the energy being produced for the resort? Are lights and buildings left with lights on all day every day? Section 9: Innovation and Infrastructure: Analyzing how ski resorts are making their infrastructure and innovations to become more sustainable. Looking at things such as transportation types and options to get to the resort and throughout the town. Also analyzing local product use and support with the surrounding community – local and organic. Analyzing the quality, reliability, sustainability and resilience of the infrastructure***.
These three sustainability features will launch with our upcoming update but in the meantime we would love to get your ratings on the overall sustainability of the resorts, and/or what you think of the 3 new measures coming in!
Sign the petition. Like the campaign on Facebook. Speak up. Stand with your ski community ! Ratoong stands by the fight for a more sustainable ski community. What is more, you can rate the sustainability of your ski resorts on Ratoong!