Snow’n’Rail 2015-16

Snow'n'Rail 2015-16
The Snow’n’Rail schedule for the Winter Sports season 2015-2016 is now available. This is the wonderful scheme run by Swiss Railways that provides a 20% discount on the combined lift pass and public transport connections for most of the leading resorts in Switzerland. This is a unique offering – the Austrian Railways run a similar scheme, although nowhere near as extensive.

The offers are now available online (in English, French, German and Italian), and in a brochure available free from the booking offices of most Swiss Railway Stations. The brochures are available in German, French and Italian depending on the language of the locality in which the stations are situated, but only the German version comprehensively covers all the resorts in the scheme.

There is not much change from last year. Most prices have stayed the same. For example an adult day trip to Zermatt from Basel if you are in possession of a Half-Tax Card is still SFr 166.40. A comparable offering is SFr 75.40 for Klewenalp, again the same as last season.

The resort coverage has changed slightly – Vals is now included.

However the most glaring omission is the Portes du Soleil. This massive ski area was one of the most impressive destinations under the Snow’n’Rail scheme, but it looks like they couldn’t come to an agreement with Swiss Railways for this season. Hopefully they will be back for the next one.

What looks like a new resort on the list, Chäserrugg, is simply a rebranded name for what has been referred to in previous years as Toggenburg or Obertoggenburg and covers the charming, linked resorts of Alt St. Johann and Underwasser. Included in the lift pass are the slopes around Wildhaus, but it appears that the routing of the offer to Wildhaus via Buchs is no longer available at a discount.

Some resorts can be accessed by train alone, others you need either a scheduled bus service or use of a linked ski bus. Details are all listed at the resort reports at the Swiss Winter Sports web site, and I can vouch for the rourting information as I have used the scheme for every resort myself!

Resorts covered by the scheme are as follows:
In Northern Switzerland: Braunwald, Chäserrugg and Pizol.
In Graubünden: Arosa Lenzerheide, Brigels, Davos Klosters, Disentis 3000, Engadin St. Moritz, Flims Laax Falera, Motta Naluns (Scuol), Splügen and Vals 3000.
In the Bernese Oberland: Adelboden-Lenk, Gstaad Mountain Rides, Jungfrau Ski Region and Meiringen-Hasliberg.
In Ticino only Airolo.
Several resorts are included in the category Alpes Vaudoises, including Villars, Les Diablerets and Leysin.
In Valais: 4 Vallées/Mt-Fort, Aletsch Arena, Blatten-Belalp, Crans-Montana, Grächen, Lauchernalp/Lötschental, Leukerbad, Visp Area, Saas-Fee/Saastal and Zermatt & Cervinia.
In Central Switzerland: Engelberg-Titlis, Klewenalp-Stockhütte, Melchsee-Frutt, Andermatt-Sedrun, Sörenberg, Sattel-Hochstuckli and Stoos.

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Ski by Train

I have just launched a new web site – really an extension of my existing ski site www.swisswintersports.co.uk – that specifically focuses on Alpine resorts you can get to by train. The site is at www.snowandrail.com, and is based largely on my own experiences. The focus is still mainly Switzerland, just because the rail network is so much more extensive and efficient in Switzerland, but there are a number of Austrian resorts included and even three French resorts.
Snow and rail
The scope currently is only resorts with a railway station in the resort – or a cable car link from a railway station to the resort. In time I might extend or repackage the site to include places where there are scheduled bus services from a nearby railway station, or even (as is often the case in France) the need to take a taxi for the last leg.

If any readers of this blog have some experience of resorts that they got to be railway that are not covered in the site, or know of good accommodation near the station, please let me know.

In the meantime, I need to do more research! Where are those skis…

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January Offers from Swiss Railways

The Snow’n’Rail scheme from Swiss Railways provides a 20% discount on the combined public transport and lift passes for a whole host of resorts in Switzerland. Additionally there are often even better offers available, and January sees some really brilliant ones.
Ski Airolo
Airolo is a pretty little village, famous as the home resort of Lara Gut, with enough slopes to keep most skiers and snowboarders happy for a day trip. They will be particularly happy with the massive 50% discount offered in January. You can get to Airolo from many locations, including Basel and Zurich, without changing trains – and there are not many resorts you can say that of. Plus it is the largest Italian-speaking resort in Switzerland.

If you do take the train to Airolo you can either take the courtesy bus from the station or walk to the bottom station – head left out of the station.

Other noteworthy deals are the 30% discount for Distentis (here), a favourite for freeriders, Meiringen-Hasliberg (here), convenient for Basel and Berne, Sattel (here), convenient for Zug and Lucerne, and Braunwald (here), a direct train trip from Zurich.

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Snow’n’Rail 2013-4

Swiss Railways provide a unique service called “Snow’n’Rail” to provide discounted use of public transport in combination with discounted lift passes for dozens of winter sports destinations. With new resorts added every season, the arrival of the new season brochures is always a memorable event.

The new Snow’n’Rail brochures should be available from railway stations throughout Switzerland from 21st October, and available online in full (in English) from 1st November at http://www.sbb.ch/ – Gstaad (Glacier 3000), St Moritz (Diavolezza) and Engelberg are already open and details are available online.Snownrail-DE-2013-4

The brochures, although available only in local languages, are invaluable companions for skiing and snowboarding in Switzerland. As well as useful information on the resorts, prices, events and tips, this year also features a competition to win a weekend break for four at one of eight youth hostels located in major ski areas such as Zermatt and St Moritz. As a huge fan of Swiss Youth Hostels you can be sure that I will be entering this competition!

Snow’n’Rail enables you to combine public transport to resorts with a lift pass, gaining a 20% discount on the combined tickets. It is available in a variety of combinations for trips of 1,2 or 6 days. If you use the service a lot, it is well worth using it with a half-price card, available from the SBB, giving even better value for money.

Although the most comprehensive information about the scheme is available from the SBB themselves, I have summarised some of the key features at http://www.swisswintersports.co.uk, and the new season prices and details are listed there. In addition the site provides some useful additional information on getting to the resort and where to go once you are there.

There are a few changes in the Snow’n’Rail scheme from last year. Prices are generally around the same as last year with most smaller resorts holding their prices, and some even reducing them for the second day. There are some small increases for some of the bigger resorts, although Zermatt has held its prices. New for this year are the small but excellent Brigels and Disentis resorts, whilst the listings for Arosa and Lenzerheide are combined with the imminent opening of a gondola uniting the two resorts. Sensibly the resorts of the Four Valleys are now combined in a single entry.

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