Geneva needs more direct train connections to European cities, Greenpeace says

Geneva needs more direct train connections to European cities, Greenpeace says

A new study by Greenpeace has slammed the lack of direct train connections between major European cities, singling out the Swiss city of Geneva for special criticism. The environmental organisation found that there are almost six times as many direct flight connections between European cities as direct train connections. 

Six times as many direct flights as direct trains in Europe

For the study, Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe analysed 990 routes between 45 major European cities. They found that direct trains run on only 12 percent of routes, compared to the 69 percent of routes that are served by direct flights. 

That means there are almost six times as many direct flights as direct train connections - and as Greenpeace points out, on average planes emit five times as many greenhouse gases as trains. In a press release, Greenpeace argued that one of the major reasons why people choose to fly instead of taking the train is the lack of direct trains. 

Arguing that more needs to be done to facilitate rail travel within Europe, Greenpeace said that of the 990 routes examined, 419 (42 percent) could be easily served by a direct day or night train that would use existing track infrastructure and result in a journey time of less than 18 hours. 

Zurich performs well, but Geneva disappoints on train connections

Looking at the performance of cities in Switzerland, Greenpeace summarised the situation as: “Zurich okay, Geneva flops”. They found that 28 cities could potentially be reached directly from Zurich with a travel time of less than 18 hours. However, connections only currently exist on 13 of these routes (46 percent) - far fewer than the 25 out of 28 routes that are served by direct flights from the airport in Zurich.

Geneva performed poorly, described as having among the worst train connectivity in Europe, offering direct connections only to Lyon, Paris, Zurich and Milan (the latter connection is currently not operating due to construction work). However, 29 cities could be reached on existing infrastructure within 18 hours. This means that connections only exist on 14 percent of the potential routes. 

The difference is particularly stark when it comes to night trains: there are nine night train connections from Zurich - one of the highest figures in Europe - compared to zero from Geneva. 

Vienna has the highest number of train connections in Europe

Nowhere in Europe were more than 60 percent of potential direct train routes served. The best-performing cities were Vienna - which with 17 direct train connections has the highest number in Europe - Munich (15 connections), Berlin (14), Zurich (13), Paris (13) and Budapest (12).

For more information, check out Greenpeace’s interactive map of the train routes served between the major European cities.

Thumb image credit: nikonka1 /

Abi Carter


Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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