A report by train travel booking company Loco2 and magazine hidden europe has compared train services across Europe, and ranked them in terms of facilities they provide.
The report, entitled ‘The Great Train Comparison’, collated responses to a 100-point survey from 16 rail companies providing high-speed, long-distance (of at least 400km) train services across Europe. The survey allows the companies to detail the facilities they offer passengers, and all but one of the 17 relevant rail service providers responded.
Among the facilities evaluated were those provided to passengers with physical and mental disabilities, such as safety instructions offered in simple language or discounts offered to wheelchair users or designated travel companions. The survey aims to promote train travel as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to other modes of transport, both for business and pleasure, and evaluated facilities according to a number of demographics and reasons for travel.
Which providers offered the best service?
Overall, Switzerland’s federal railway service SSB-CFF-FFS received the highest ranking, being rated the best provider for families travelling with children, passengers with disabilities and those travelling with sports equipment, including bicycles and skis. The service was also rated the second best in terms of its environmental impact, making it the highest overall performer in the survey.
Deutsche Bahn and the Austrian federal railway (ÖBB) also fared well in the survey, receiving joint second position in the overall rankings of all 16 train services across Europe. Both were commended for providing a quiet ambiance on train journeys, and for having excellent facilities for backpackers.
How have stakeholders responded?
In the introduction to the report, Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries of hidden europe highlight the growing interest in rail travel among Europeans in recent years, thanks in part to the debut of high-speed networks which make travelling by train faster than flying between many European cities.
The European Commission has also emphasised its commitment to increasing the role of rail in the most recent multiannual financial framework proposal, with a scheme to provide young Europeans with passes for free Interrail travel when they turn 18 years old.