Switzerland named best in Europe for rail travel

Switzerland named best in Europe for rail travel

A new study by LITRA has revealed that the Swiss public transport system is the best and most popular in Europe. People in Switzerland were found to take the train 48 times a year on average, the highest rate on the continent.

Switzerland the European champion for rail travel in 2021

In a statement, LITRA, an information service for transportation, claimed that in 2021, Switzerland was “the European champion in rail travel.” Their latest study, which compared the average number of rail journeys a person takes in each country, and the total distance travelled by an average passenger a year, found that despite lower passenger numbers during the COVID pandemic, 2021 still saw Switzerland take the top spot for rail travel in Europe.

In 2021, people in Switzerland took an average of 48 train journeys, two more journeys than in 2020 but still 33 percent fewer than in 2019. Despite the drop compared to the pre-COVID years, the alpine nation managed to claim the top spot, with more people choosing to take the train to work or for leisure than anywhere else in Europe. Luxembourg (26 journeys per person) and Austria (24 journeys) made up the rest of the podium.

Elsewhere, Denmark and Germany rounded out the top five with more than 20 recorded journeys per person in 2021. At the bottom of the list, people in Greece and Latvia were found to only take one rail journey per person per year.

People returning to the train after COVID pandemic

Perhaps not surprisingly, 2021 also saw people in Europe travel for longer than during 2020, but less than during 2019 - something LITRA blamed on the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns across Europe. On average, each European resident travelled 588 kilometres by train in 2021.

In Switzerland, on the other hand, each person travelled an average of 1.628 kilometres by rail in 2021 - the equivalent of nearly 3 round trips between Zurich and Geneva. Switzerland’s score is triple the European average and 500 kilometres more a person than second place, with people in France travelling 1.118 kilometres per person in 2021 - a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that Switzerland is 7 percent the size of France.

Top 10 European nations for rail journeys in 2021

In all, here are all the top 10 European nations for the number of rail journeys per person:

  • 1. Switzerland (48)
  • 2. Luxembourg (26)
  • 3. Austria (24)
  • 4. Denmark (23)
  • 5. Germany (22)
  • 6. Sweden (16)
  • =7. France (13)
  • =7. Czechia (13)
  • =9. United Kingdom (12)
  • =9. Portugal (12)

By the number of kilometres travelled by rail in a year, the top 10 in 2021 were:

  • 1. Switzerland (1.628)
  • 2. France (1.118)
  • 3. Austria (933)
  • 4. Sweden (768)
  • 5. Denmark (712)
  • 6. Germany (691)
  • 7. Czechia (642)
  • 8. The Netherlands (620)
  • 9. Belgium (599)
  • 10. Finland (523)

In concluding their report, LITRA said that with passenger numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels, SBB offering a new expanded timetable, and with jobs returning to offices in cities and cantons, Switzerland is expected to keep its crown when the data for 2022 is released. For more information, check out the official press release.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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