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Europe’s top three high-speed and long-distance operators revealed in new report

A comparison report of Europe’s high-speed and long-distance train services has been published by Loco2, revealing that SBB, Deutsche Bahn and ÖBB are the top three train operators for passengers belonging to 12 types of audiences, including foodies, business travellers, pet owners, backpackers, families with children and many more…

The Great Train Comparison report – an industry-first – was designed to review and compare the on-board services provided on trains run by 16 leading European rail companies.

Published by Loco2, the search and booking platform for train tickets in the UK and Europe, the report has revealed the top three train operators across Europe for passengers belonging to 12 types of audiences, including foodies, business travellers, pet owners, backpackers, families with children and many more. In each audience category, the top three performers were selected, based on a 100-point survey that each operator was requested to complete – see below the full comparison table.

Overall, top of the league was Swiss national rail operator SBB, taking first place in four of the 12 categories: Cyclists, winter sports fans, passengers with disabilities and families with kids. Close behind was German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) and ÖBB Austrian Railways, which both performed well across all audiences, with some great features for families and backpackers, such as experienced childminders on-board, range of child-friendly games and entertainment, generous luggage space and easy access to power points.

For rail passengers who want to get from A to B in a hurry, French rail operator SNCF came first for pioneering high-speed rail in Europe. Spanish rail operator Renfe’s AVE trains were also commended for combining style with speed, while Eurostar was highly praised for having so positively transformed the relationship between London and major cities on the continent.

Other top contenders highlighted in the Great Train Comparison report were Czech Railways (ČD), praised for their full-service restaurant cars offering great-value meals. Trenitalia was named best operator for business travellers, as their Frecciarossa trains offer ample space to work on board and their business offering includes lounge access at major stations – travellers can also book a dedicated meeting space on the train. Business travellers in Italy are spoilt for choice, as the premium product offered by Italo also ranks as one of the finest in Europe.

The most pet-friendly train operators are found in Britain, with train operators Virgin East Coast, Great Western Railway and CrossCountry all allowing passengers to bring their furry friends for free on the train.

Created by Loco2 with invaluable input and additional research by Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner of the Berlin-based consultancy hidden europe. Loco2 invited Mark Smith, who runs the website The Man in Seat 61, to write the report Foreword, and partnered with 11 established bloggers to gather their opinions on European train travel. It is hoped that the report’s findings will give travellers the confidence to choose train travel over flying, so making the journey a more pleasurable and memorable part of the entire experience.

Commenting on rail services that guarantee passengers speed and convenience, a spokesperson from French rail operator SNCF, said: “We are delighted to be a part of Loco2’s Great Train Comparison report, but even more so to be awarded with such a grand accolade, whereby we can celebrate our most valued features that benefit passengers, especially for those who need to get to A to B in a hurry. Passengers can take advantage of our 440 high-speed trains with 700 TGV journeys run each day to move passengers quickly in France and across Europe. We own the biggest high-speed train fleet in Europe, which enables us to accommodate for people who are travelling to city centres, perhaps for business trips, or for those who wish to visit other countries in Europe such as Italy, Germany, England or Spain, for a weekend city break.”

Commenting on the luxuries offered to business travellers who opt for the train, Gianpiero Strisciuglio, Director of the Long-Haul Department of Trenitalia, said: “We are honoured that Trenitalia has been awarded with the distinction as the ‘top rail operator’ in the Business Travellers category. This is recognition of our offer targeted to business travellers. We strive to provide excellent benefits: comfort, flexibility and a range of complimentary services. Our offering includes 187 daily connections with Frecciarossa trains, every 15 minutes from Rome to Milan during peak hours, with flexible, digital tickets.”

Gianpiero continued: “Moreover, Business and Executive coaches have wide armchairs, free Wi-Fi access and a menu with Italian specialties. Business passengers can optimise their work schedule by reserving a meeting room equipped with five workstations, while those who need a quiet environment can travel in a designated Silence area located in the Business coach. FrecciaClubs are available at major stations where Executive passengers can find personalised assistance, free Wi-Fi access, snacks and drinks in a quiet place, before starting boarding – with a fast lane access to the platforms.”

Kate Andrews, Loco2’s co-Founder and COO commented: “While compiling this report, I’ve been impressed by the many innovations touted by a broad range of operators, each with the customer at its heart. These operators are really going the extra mile to accommodate their passengers, making them great ambassadors for rail travel.

“We have published The Great Train Comparison to celebrate and recognise the best train operators according to a range of audiences and promote the positive experience available to millions of passengers who may normally choose to fly by default.

“I’ve been travelling by train in Europe for many years and yet I’m still impressed by each new improvement. The future of rail is a thrilling prospect; not only are the facilities on board improving, but the routes and connections themselves are just getting better and better.”

The full Great Train Comparison report can be downloaded here.

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