Switzerland crowned European champion of rail travel by LITRA study

Switzerland crowned European champion of rail travel by LITRA study

From night trains to moonshot plans for a direct train to London, people in Switzerland do love their locomotives. This was most recently confirmed by a new report from the transport association LITRA, which named the alpine nation the “champion” of rail travel in Europe.

Swiss public transport the most frequently used in Europe

According to the report, people in Switzerland use the public transport network more frequently than those in any other nation in Europe. Using data from Swiss Federal Railways, LITRA calculated that people across Swiss cities and cantons took 61 train journeys each in 2022, 13 more than in 2021 but still lower than the 74 journeys recorded before the pandemic in 2019. 

Switzerland was followed by Denmark (51) and Luxembourg (33) on the podium. On the opposite side of the list was Greece, with only one train trip per person in 2022.

Average person in Switzerland travelled over 2.000 kilometres by train

Whether it be for holidays, work or to see friends and family, each person in Switzerland travelled an average of 2.179 kilometres by train last year - the equivalent of going from Zurich to Casablanca as the crow flies. This is especially surprising given the size of Switzerland compared to second and third-placed France and Austria, where people travelled 1.510 kilometres and 1.412 kilometres per person respectively.

In the report, LITRA noted that compared to 2021, “all countries recorded growth” in rail travel, largely thanks to the lifting of COVID restrictions over the course of the year. However, while public transport networks in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland among others recovered well, passenger numbers in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg are still struggling to get back to levels seen in 2019.

For Swiss railways passenger numbers have returned to normal and exceeded pre-COVID levels this year. However, rail companies have been beset with rising energy and salary costs, and with the government set to cut funding to Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) as part of expected austerity measures, it remains to be seen whether rising ticket prices will be back on the agenda next year.

Top 10 nations in Europe for rail travel

In all, here are the top 10 nations in Europe rated by the number of rail journeys taken per person (bear in mind that per person data was not available for Polish, Belgian and Dutch railways):

  • 1. Switzerland (61)
  • 2. Denmark (51)
  • 3. Luxembourg (33)
  • 4. Austria (32)
  • 5. Germany (30)
  • 6. Sweden (23)
  • 7. United Kingdom (20)
  • 8. France (17)
  • =9. Portugal (16)
  • =9. Czechia (16)
  • 10. Finland (17)

Here are the top 10 by kilometres travelled per passenger:

  • 1. Switzerland (2.179)
  • 2. France (1.510)
  • 3. Austria (1.412)
  • 4. Sweden (1.224)
  • 5. Germany (1.094)
  • 6. Denmark (1.075)
  • 7. The Netherlands (960)
  • 8. Czechia (868)
  • 9. Belgium (824)
  • 10. Finland (822)

For more information, and to see how other European countries faired, check out the LITRA website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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