All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Alpen Express

Introduction

Alpen Express train

The Alpen Express is a dedicated snow train that runs from the Netherlands, via Cologne in Germany, overnight to a excellent range of Austrian ski resorts.
To join to the Alpen Express from the UK, you take a Eurostar to Brussels, and then an ICE train to Cologne, where you can have dinner before boarding the Alpen Express.

The Alpen Express has a disco-bar carriage, 6, 5 and 3-berth couchettes, with breakfast served. You arrive in the morning close to the slopes, ready for the first of your extra day's skiing - which results from the fact that you've travelled overnight.

At February half-term, when the train is full of families, the disco-bar remains quiet.


Couchettes

The Alpen Express offers three types of sleeping compartments:

  • 6-berth compartment
  • 5-berth comfort compartment
  • Sleep-3 compartment

All compartments have:
* Beds can be converted into regular seats (lowest bunk)
* Can be booked for private use or per individual berth in a shared compartment
* Bed linen, blanket and pillow are provided
* Beverages, snacks and breakfast are available for purchase with the train steward
 


6-berth compartment

Alpen Express compartment

Here are the specifics of the six-berth compartment, which is the cheapest accommodation on the Alpen Express.

Berth, of course, is another way of saying 'bed' on a train.

6-berth compartment:
* Compartment for up to 6 persons
* Can be booked for private use or per individual berth in a shared compartment
* Shared toilet facilities can be found on the corridor
* Window blinds and a table for food and drinks


5-berth comfort compartment

Alpen Express compartment

Here are the specifics of the five-berth compartment, which is a little more expensive than the six-berth option.
* Compartment for up to 5 persons
* Can be booked for private use or per individual berth in a shared compartment
* Shared toilet facilities can be found on the corridor
* Compartment has power sockets
* Climate controlled compartment
* Window blinds and a table for food and drinks
* Quiet coach, enhanced travel comfort


Sleep-3 compartment

Alpen Express sleeper compartment

The Sleep-3 compartments are a little more luxurious and spacious, because the space is shared between fewer people and there is a private sink
* Compartment for up to 3 persons
* Compartment with private sink, shared toilets on the corridor
* Can be booked for private use only
* Compartment has power sockets
* Beds with comfortable mattresses
* Breakfast is included in the price


Alpen Express scenery

Alpen Express scenery

When the Alpen Express arrives in Austria in the slopes, you are in for a treat in terms of scenery.

The train splits at Innsbruck to head in two different directions.  In one direction it heads  into the magnificent Arlberg Valley towards St Anton; in the other it speeds towards Zell am See, a route that also takes in some wonderful views.

The great thing about train travel in this area is that you get such a mix of scenery - mountains, valleys, lakeside expanses and close up vistas onto villages, farms - often beautifully blanketted in snow.  Which, some time later, will be crunching under your skis or snowboard.


Alpen Express bar-disco

Alpen Express bar-disco

The Alpen Express has a bar which turns into a disco.  For those of you who remember the party carriage of the Rail Europe Snow Train (which used to run form Paris to the Tarentaise resorts in France), this may bring back misty-eyed memories. Perhaps you are now married to someone you met there.

We've never travelled on the Alpen Express, so can't give a first-hand report of how good the party carriage is.  However, from meeting the company, Treinweiswinkel, who run the train, it sounds like it's a pleasant time.

If you love the idea of a sleeper train, but don't want to be bopping the night away, you can request a sleeping compartment that is further away from the bar-disco. And on family-holiday weeks it's quiet, in any case.


Alpen Express YouTube video (in Dutch)

To get more of an idea of what it's like travelling on the Alpen Express, here is the promo video from the company that run the train. The video is in Dutch, but the images are international...

We are looking forward to trying the Alpen Express during the 2019-20 winter season, and will of course report back on our first-hand experience.

But everything we know about the train bodes well for a good experience by train to Austrian ski resorts.

 


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