Sustainability and considering carbon omissions is something that has become increasingly important to guests visiting Austria and arriving at MoaAlm Mountain Retreat. We already have lots of European guests arriving to us via train. The Austrian OEBB train service is as reliable as you would expect and a super efficient transport service. It has now become increasingly easy to arrive in Austria from the UK by train. The journey combines the Eurostar with the Alpen Express, allowing the traveller to have a more relaxed journey to the Austrian ski resorts. Arrival to and from the UK to Kitzbühel on train, as opposed to flying, cuts your carbon omissions by 80%. This combined with our determination to offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to the more traditional ski holiday is something we are really excited about.
The Alpen Express runs outbound from the UK on Fridays, reaching Austrian resorts on Saturday morning. It travels back overnight the following Saturday evening.
The service runs every week, with the first departure on Friday 20th December 2019 and the final inbound journey on Saturday 14th March 2020. You can board the 11:04 Eurostar to Amsterdam arriving at 16:11, have a meal and take the Alpen Express at 18:59. Or take the 15:04 Eurostar to Brussels and then an ICE train from the adjacent platform, arriving in Cologne at 20:15 in time to have dinner and catch the Alpen Express at 22:26. You’ll then arrive in Kitzbühel at 08:42, where the train station is right next to the bus connection that brings you to Huben, in East Tirol. From here a member of the MoaAlm team can pick you up for the start of your Austrian adventure in the village of Kals Am Grossglockner.
An early flight with added winter sports luggage fees that often lands you a long road transfer from the slopes, by comparison may seem less appealing. Especially when, you could be drinking a coffee or sipping a beer, and then enjoying breakfast in your couchette as breathtaking mountain vistas glide past your window.
The Alpen Express has three types of couchette accommodation: six-berth and five-berth sleeping cars, and luxury private compartments for one to three people. For those who like to consider healthier plant based options, you can bring your own food and drink on board. Snacks, drinks and breakfast are all also available on the train.
Information about train journeys to Austria with the Alpen Express, as well as other trains, can also be found on the Snowcarbon website.
Last Winter, a guest and good friend of the WearActive team wrote of his experiences arriving to us at MoaAlm via train. The day after arriving they were able to enjoy a snowshoe hike from our mountain base to stretch out the limbs and breathe in the fresh Alpine air.
“We set ourselves the challenge of getting to MoaAlm this winter without flying. If you have a couple of extra days, you can extend the whole MoaAlm holiday experience by travelling through some fantastic scenery, great cities and no airports. It is fairly easy to organise, overall costs are similar to flying and you can do your bit to help the planet. There are various sites to help you plan and book your trip, the best of which is seat61.com, where you can find a wealth of tips and alternative routings. We opted for the route via Paris, Zurich and Kitzbuhel, but you can also take an overnight train through Germany.
We set off on Friday morning from darkest Surrey, heading up to London in the morning rush with all the commuters. They looked curiously at our bags and rucksacks, feeling somewhat jealous that we were clearly going somewhere more interesting than they were. Quick change at Vauxhall (step free to platform) and Victoria line to King Cross. At the Eurostar terminal, there is a different vibe – everyone is going somewhere exciting, and we show our passports for the only time of the journey.
Eurostar is nice and smooth to Paris, and one tip from seat61 is to buy your metro tickets from the onboard café to save faffing in the metro station. We were in premium economy, and the lunch included in the ticket was decent (like airline food used to be!) and washed down with wine. Refreshed, we arrived at Gare de Nord and went straight down to the RER to ride two stops to Gare de Lyon.
We had a couple of hours to wait, and whiled away the time in the Big Ben bar of the Train Bleu restaurant (another seat61 tip). The décor is brilliant and the sharing plates just right for a mid-afternoon snack to soak up the beer, which to borrow a phrase was “reassuringly expensive”. We found our seats on the TGV-Lyria express train and were soon flying though the countryside at over 300 km/hour. As it grew dark, we passed into Switzerland, and we finished at Zurich in time to check into our hotel and have a wander around the bars in the old part of town (Hotel Bristol – 5 mins walk from the station).
A quick hotel breakfast in the morning, then back to Zurich station for our scenic trip through the Alps. We were in the panorama coach with tall windows giving an unobstructed view of the fantastic scenery. We passed along peaceful lakes and steep valleys into Austria and then started climbing up the Arlberg pass, where the views were stunning. Mountain peaks surrounded us as we then descended past Innsbruck to Kitzbuhel, where we got off and moved briskly to the station car park, where the post bus was waiting for us.
One last leg for an hour and a half on the bus to Huben, with more scenery to entertain us, and we jumped off in the village to see a familiar blue minibus and some of the MoaAlm team. We settled down for the short ride up the valley to MoaAlm, where we arrived at tea time, just in time for our first delicious “Cake of the Day”.
The trip clearly took longer than flying, but seemed less tiring and definitely added to the overall adventure. In terms of logistics, for the tickets, we bought an Interrail pass with 5 days travel in 15 – like gap year travellers (but first class!). If you do get the pass, it covers trains from anywhere in the UK to Kings Cross, which caused a number of entertaining discussions with the barrier staff as they wished the silver gap year travellers on their way! This approach was slightly cheaper than just buying individual tickets for our trip, but if you plan far enough in advance, there are cheap fixed train tickets available (just like in the UK). The faster trains (like Eurostar and TGV) require more expensive seat reservations if you are on Interrail, for the other trains you can either take a chance with no reserved seat or book seats for around 5 euros/journey. All the bookings were made online.
For our trip home we actually continued the rail adventure to Hamburg, Copenhagen and Stockholm to visit the family, but that’s another story. We have already started planning a route to Split/Vis by train!”