The Great Train Comparison Report, commissioned by online train booking service Loco2, 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.
For families, Swiss Federal Railways took the top spot; as well as family-friendly zones and carriages, the operator has created play areas for children on the top deck of its inter-city trains. While, Deutsche Bahn, which came second, offers the services of experienced child-minders.
The Swiss operator, along with Spain’s state rail company, Renfe, offered the best service for disabled passengers, providing a “sophisticated” and “carefully coordinated” assistance to passengers with a range of needs. Eurostar, which gives a complimentary upgrade from standard class to standard premier to wheelchair passengers, came third.
The report praised Deutsch Bahn for its clear sustainability policy, from sourcing food responsibly to favouring green energy for its electric trains. Passengers on the German railway also get a discount on hot drinks if they provide their own cup.
Deutsche Bahn and Austrian Railways (ÖBB) came first and second respectively for backpackers, with neither operator requiring seat reservations or charges for those travelling on Interrail or Eurail passes, as well as offering free wifi and plenty of space for larger rucksacks.
Though UK train operators struggled to make it into the top three in most categories, they excelled when it came to supporting passengers travelling with pets. Virgin East Coast was found to be best in this category, followed by Great Western Railway and Cross Country Trains, all of which allow passengers to bring their pets at no extra cost.
Overall, Swiss Federal Railways came out top after taking first place in four categories; best for families, disabled passengers, cyclists and winter sports. It was followed closely by German rail operator Duetsche Bahn (DB) and ÖBB Austrian Railways, which came joint second with a strong performance across all categories.