The development of high speed rail brings with it the possibility of driving excellence in the rail travel experience for the many. Its appeal is growing, as travellers consider not simply how fast they can get to where they want to go, but also the experience of getting there. Commissioned by online train booking service Loco2; the Great Train Comparison Report is a Europe-wide report that sets out the diverse rail services on offer and how rail travellers can experience the very best of European rail travel, depending on their specific (and varied) needs.
Loco2 selected 11 target audiences and researched how well modern European train operators meet the needs of these groups. So the report showcases the best from across Europe – from which services are most child-friendly, to who scores well when it comes to having good value meals available all day in its restaurant cars, to which services make cyclists travelling experiences easier.
The researchers surveyed all but one of the European rail companies that offer high-speed, long-distance daytime trains, with journeys of at least 400km. Sixteen rail companies, including Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), Deutsche Bahn (DB), Eurostar and Virgin Trains, were asked to respond to a 100-point survey detailing the facilities and amenities they provide for different types of passengers. The survey allows the companies to detail the facilities they offer passengers, and all but one of the 17 relevant rail service providers responded.
The overall first, second and third places went, perhaps unsurprisingly, to Swiss Railways, Deutsche Bahn and Austrian Railways respectively. However, the results also show some interesting variations – with Spain’s state rail company, Renfe, along with Swiss Federal Railways, offering the best service for disabled passengers, providing a “sophisticated” and “carefully coordinated” assistance to passengers with a range of needs. Eurostar came third in this category; giving a complimentary upgrade from standard class to standard premier to passengers using wheelchairs.
For families, Swiss Federal Railways was first; offering family-friendly zones and carriages and play areas for children on the top deck of its inter-city trains. Deutsche Bahn, which came in second, offers the services of experienced child-minders on its services.
Deutsch Bahn was also singled out in the report for its sustainability policy; from sourcing food responsibly to favouring green energy for its electric trains, with passengers also getting a discount on hot drinks if they provide their own cup.
In Switzerland, the railways go even further, offering, for a modest fee, to collect sledges, snowboards and other related gear from your front door and transport it to the ski resort (obviously your front door needs to be in Switzerland for this to apply!).
Overall the Great Train Comparison results really do highlight how train companies are reinventing themselves as outstanding service providers – geared up to cater to the needs of very different audiences, and able to take on other transport modes as a result.
You can access the full report here: https://loco2.com/en-gb/blog/great-train-comparison_report