Ullr, the idea of using a train to go on a ski vacation is real appealing to me. It's fun, novel and very relaxing once you get rolling. Here in the States it's not very practical unless you're retired and have tons of time because the travel distances are so great. Planes and rental cars are as cheap (or almost) and much quicker. But training around the Alps is more feasible. You might try posting your question on the www.snowheads.com
, UK ski discussion board.
Here's a recent thread which is not exactly the same question, but shows the kind of knowledge they can impart about which Alpine resorts might be easiest to reach using trains, planes, and autos:
I'd be curious to know which top Alpine ski resorts they'd recommend for quality skiing AND close proximity to a major international airport? Certainly St. Anton would be one, but there are probably some good Swiss and French suggestions too.
Regarding ambitious trips like The Rusty's Amsterdam/Swiss trip, I'm as guilty as anyone about trying to pack a lot into one trip. Main thing though is to stop long enough (like 3 or 4 days) at each major destination to make your trip more about visiting places, rather than about traveling to and from places. My earlier suggestion about Glacier Express between Zermatt and St. Moritz is very expensive and analogous to telling a European to take a two part US ski trip to Vail and Deer Valley. Much of Austria is generally cheaper than Switzerland or France and places like St. Anton, Kitzbuhl (watch out for low elev), and Innsbruck (perhaps cheapest of all) could still be done fairly affordably in this era of strong Euro. Here's more about skiing around Innsbruck without a car: http://www.goski.com/rau/innsbruck_review.htm
This set-up is much like my Salzburg trip, sort of a commuters vacation with some the great ambiance and culture of a city, but not the cozy, convenience of staying right at the base of a ski area.
When I used the Eurail pass it covered first class train travel and I believe this is still true, but sometimes for convenience we used it for second class on short trips. I didn't notice that much difference, second class is like our AMTRAK and for individually purchased rides offers a good price break over first class. If you need to do a lot of train travel entirely within one country it is cheaper to buy a national train pass instead of the international Eurail pass.