Is flying really the fastest way to get to the slopes? A new Top Gear-style race to the Alps pits the plane against the train to see which mode of transport really is faster. It also gives a real-time comparison of the journeys.
Departing from London at the same time, ski journalists Neil English (plane) and Daniel Elkan (train) battle it out, with the winner the first to be sipping champagne in the hot tub of Fish & Pips chalet in Meribel ski resort in the huge 3 Valleys ski area in France.
Neil’s route is a flight from Gatwick to Geneva and then a private minibus transfer, while Daniel catches a Eurostar to Paris and then a TGV down to Moutiers, from where it is a 20-minute taxi ride to Meribel.
With a cameraman following each journalist, the film captures the drama, frustration and banter – exposing the advantages and limitations of each mode of transport.
“As a kid, I used to take the train to ski resorts with my family,” says Neil English. “I loved it, it was always so exciting. But when Daniel challenged me to a race, I was up for proving that however enjoyable train travel might be, the plane is a lot faster.”
“There plenty of ski resorts in the the Alps that you can reach as quickly by train as you can by plane if you live near London,” says Snowcarbon’s Co-founder, Daniel Elkan. “The conventional wisdom says that flying is much quicker, but measured door-to-door, that is a complete myth.”
While there is also a direct ski train from London to the 3 Valleys, the slightly longer, indirect (via Paris) route was chosen deliberately because equivalent journeys can be made to resorts all over the Alps. “Only one region of France has the direct Ski Train from London but many other ski regions are accessible by Eurostar + TGV just as quickly, so this race has relevance to many regions and resorts,” says Elkan. “And these journeys are comfortable, easy and fun.”
“As a region, we want skiers to be aware of all their travel options. Travelling by train can make the journey part of the holiday,” says Vincent Lalanne, director of Les 3 Vallées Association. “The film highlights the fact that these indirect routes are perfectly viable – so as well as an exciting race, it helps inform skiers about their travel options.”