As part of its commitment to a sustainable strategy, Compagnie des Alpes (CDA) and its subsidiary Travelski are stepping up the international expansion of their rail services to ski resorts in the French Alps. Following the relaunch of the Travelski express service from London and Paris, Travelski is now launching a European call for tenders from rail operators for a recurrent low-carbon rail mobility offer from France, the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium, and potentially from Spain, to the Alps for the three-year period 2024 – 2027.
Increasing rail capacity to the French Alps
This call for applications is open to all European rail operators able to provide trains, complete or otherwise, to carry passengers to Alpine resorts on one or two rotations per week between mid-December and mid-April, with a volume of passengers guaranteed by Compagnie des Alpes.
This initiative is open to various rail transport options, including high-speed and night trains.
Bryce ARNAUD-BATTANDIER, Head of the Distribution & Hospitality BU at CDA, explains the key factors in the selection of rail service providers for this European tender. “Our launch of the Travelski Express two years ago was a great success with consumers, validating the economic viability of the concept. To ensure sustainability, we will base our selection criteria on parameters that optimise the user experience, such as journey times and the quality of the rolling stock. On the strength of our experience with the Travelski Express over the last two years, we are confident in the potential of the French, Belgian and Dutch markets.
We are now looking for a reliable operator for a long-term partnership.
“Our strategy is to offer solid guarantees to operators. We commit to three-year periods, offering visibility and stability to our future partners. Last year, we managed to fly 12,000 customers there and back.
We will adapt our offer according to the markets of origin and the partnerships established. On certain destinations, we have the capacity and experience to fill entire trains – a model that has already proved its worth. We remain flexible regarding the type of train used. Night trains are also a viable option. Our surveys show that our customers are inclined to use this type of service, particularly groups, as it meets their expectations. There is clearly a craze for this travel format”.
Improving the customer experience (again and again)
Bryce ARNAUD-BATTANDIER explains in detail how the Travelski-express experience has influenced the design of the current offer, in order to improve the experience based on feedback from the last two years: “We will be paying close attention to the most favourable time slots. For example, this winter, the 8-night format proposed by Eurostar proved to be inconvenient for contracting with accommodation providers”.
At the same time, Compagnie des Alpes is discussing partnerships with other tourist operators in the Alps in order to broaden the offer and increase passenger volumes by train. “Our aim is to increase rail capacity, and this initiative is in line with our strategy for managing indirect emissions. By targeting scope 3, we are supporting the sustainable development of mountain holidays, which we are convinced will be a lever for accelerating this dynamic. We are open to collaborating with other entities (accommodation providers in particular) who wish to join us in strengthening this offer.
The most important thing is to succeed
We are convinced of the positive impact of this approach, both for the mountain environment and for the satisfaction of our customers. We are devoting considerable resources and energy to it,” explains Bryce ARNAUD-BATTANDIER.
A new rail service for winter 2024-2025?
The aim of Compagnie des Alpes and its subsidiary Travelski is to launch these new offers for the winter of 2024-25, provided that the solutions are rapidly applicable and operationally viable. This marks a further step forward for the group, which has crossed the symbolic threshold of one billion euros in sales. In its quest for innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions and transform winter travel practices, the group aims to transport tens of thousands of holidaymakers to ski resorts by train every year.
To ensure that the proposed solutions are not only operationally realistic, but also fast enough to meet the needs of holidaymakers from the 2024-25 winter season, Bryce ARNAUD-BATTANDIER stresses the need to anticipate these new services: “It is crucial that this rail offer is launched next spring for effective marketing. That’s why we’re taking action now to prepare for the coming season. To this end, we have drawn up a provisional timetable to coordinate and validate the necessary agreements”.
With this European call for applications, Compagnie des Alpes is taking the lead in the green revolution in mountain tourism, while inviting other players to come on board this great adventure. For the 2024-25 winter season, the destination is clear: an efficient, environmentally-friendly rail service for responsible winter sports enthusiasts. Compagnie des Alpes is committed to an adventure where every stop is a step towards a more sustainable future.