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5 Nov, 2023

Travel Greener & Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Taking the train can reduce your kgCO2 for a return journey by up to 94% to ski resorts across France.

Travelling to the Alps by train is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. We want to enjoy the mountains as much as future generations, and to help our customers lower their CO2 emissions we've created a travel and CO2 comparison, which is now live on each of our ski resorts across France, Switzerland and Austria. 

With the introduction of the new Eurostar ski train route via. Lille for this Winter, there's no better time to take the train, especially to French resorts where travel time from London is roughly the same as flying.

We've added a CO2 comparison to our ski resort pages to show you how much CO2 you'll save by going by rail, or sharing a car. Ever wanted to know precisely how much CO2 you produce when travelling to the Alps? Now you can.

CO2 comparison for flying, taking the train and sharing a car to Val Thorens

Want a copy of the data?

When it comes to sustainable travel, going by train far greener than flying. Not only is fuel used more efficiently, but electric trains can run on green electricity, reducing CO2 emissions even more.

Celebrating low carbon travel is vital to preserve the environment, our favourite ski resorts, and reduce our own carbon footprint.

Dan Fox, Managing Director of SkiWeekends, commented:

"We all love our mountain holidays and winter sports, and of course those are the main reasons SkiWeekends exists.  But around 70% of the CO2 emissions from your holiday come travelling to and from resort, and most of that comes from the flights. Travelling by car is dramatically better, however taking the train is by far the best solution. We are big believers in train travel, so we've added comparisons on every relevant resort page, so you can see what kgCO2 savings you could make. "

The CO2 Alarm For Ski Resorts Is Ringing Loud

Ski resorts across the Alps have been grappling with the impacts of climate change, and whilst many are taking steps to preserve the future of their resorts, the majority of individual CO2 produced during a ski holiday is created through transport.

Many sustainable travel companies focus on carbon offsetting or "eco-accommodation", and whilst this has its place it does not address the cause of the problem. The majority of carbon emissions in the travel industry originate from flights, so green travel should look at the reducing CO2 emissions, not simply offsetting. We wanted to put this into focus, showing you exactly how much CO2 your journey produces by flying, by train, or by driving to the Alps.

What Else Are SkiWeekends Doing To Help?

With transfers - wherever possible - we now offer transfers by electric car or minibus, to cut down the CO2 emissions of standard minibuses. These aren't available on all routes yet, but we hope to roll this out further this and next season.

When it comes to chalets, increasingly we are improving the energy efficiency of chalets and our new chalet in Les Gets (Chalet Marjorie) is super-efficient, using air-source heat pump and electricity only. That means the energy consumption is less than half of that of other chalets. The majority of power in the Alps is largely hydroelectric, so is environmentally friendly.

Where possible, we are striving to move all chalets to more efficient options. We have revisited our menus to reduce waste and focus on locally sourced ingredients. Our staff uniforms are largely made from recycled plastics. For ski / snowboard hire, it is vastly more efficient environmentally to hire than to buy and carry your own skis / snowboard. We are no claiming to be super-green, but we are constantly trying to reduce the environmental impact of delivering ski holidays.

Lastly, there there was a time when the majority of SkiWeekends customers travelled to the Alps by coach to France - over 4000 guests made the trip each year. The coach was considerably greener than flying, but it's popularity waned as the price difference between coach and flight diminished. We still think that at some point that we may re-introduce coach! Watch this space!

How We've Calculated The CO2 Values

To calculate the carbon values for each mode of transport, the first thing we do is calculate the distance between the departure and arrival points for the plane, train and the car.

For trains, we've gathered data direct from the train operator websites, as well as route lengths from TrainLine. We've also calculated train journeys in France using the new Eurostar route via. Lille, and the usual route through Paris. For example, for London - Val Thorens we calculated the distance between London and Lille, Lille to Moutiers, and the distance by route between Moutiers and central Val Thorens. The sum of the three legs gives us an estimate in kilometers for the entire journey.

For plane journeys we've used the Haversine Formula, which takes into account the curvature of the earth and is one of the most accurate ways to approximate the distance between two points. For driving, we've assumed 4 people are sharing a car, and we have calculations for both taking the ferry from Calais and taking the Eurotunnel. We've also taken the distance from the M25 around London to Calais.

Once we have the distances for each mode of travel, we apply standard conversion factors. For planes, we use the short-haul international average factor of 0.15102kg CO2 per km, and for trains the International rail (Eurostar) factor of 0.01502 kg CO2 per km, followed by local train company averages, depending on the route and country.

There are many caveats produced in creating estimating carbon footprints  and CO2 calculations, and we've done our best to cover these in the datasets used for our calculations. For example, CO2 values can differ depending on:

  • The exact model of train or plane, including fuel consumption figures
  • For electric trains, the method of electricity generation (we currently use the French grid electricity factor)
  • The exact distance travelled by train, including its bends and curves
  • The exact plane route in the air
  • Class of travel: First Class travel uses more space and therefore emits more CO2
  • If the journey includes other forms of transport such as a minibus for shared transfer, or taxi, or other mode of transfer to the resort

See The CO2 Data

Want to take a look at the working data of how we calculated the kgCO2 figures? Simply complete the form below: