The 2017 European Railway Performance Index placed Switzerland number one with a score of 7.2 out of 10.
The index, produced by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), looks at intensity of use, quality of service and safety. A score of 7.2 places Switzerland in tier 1 alongside Denmark (6.8), Finland (6.6), Germany and Austria (6.1), and Sweden and France (6.0). Lower down, Great Britain (5.3), The Netherlands (5.3), Spain (5.0), Belgium (4.6) and Italy (4.5) are classified as tier 2. The worst countries, in tier 3, were Romania and Bulgaria (1.9).
Intensity of use measures how much a country’s rail network is used – higher passenger and freight numbers give a higher score. Safety measures the number of accidents and fatalities. Quality of service measures punctuality, high-speed rail percentage and cost per kilometre. Including high-speed rail means the ranking favours large countries – they are more likely to have long-distance high-speed links.
Unfortunately, high performance comes at a high cost. The level of performance correlates closely with public cost. Switzerland has both the highest performance and public cost, alongside Austria. In 2016, the federal and cantonal governments gave Swiss Rail nearly CHF 2.5 billion1, or 27% of it’s income, to keep it running.
BCG did the same ranking in 2012 and 2015. Switzerland came out on top then too.