Swiss railways ranked first in the 2015 European Railway Performance Index calculated by the Paris office of Boston Consulting Group, ahead of those from Sweden, Denmark, France, Finland and Germany.
The report confirms Switzerland’s top placed position in a similar ranking conducted in 2012.
“Overall the results of our 2015 study are consistent with our first study,” the authors say.
“Switzerland, Sweden, France and Germany are still among the countries with the best performing railway systems.”
But the report shows that Sweden, ranked fourth in the 2012 study has changed places with France (fourth, down from second) in the index that evaluates three areas of passenger and freight traffic.
The index rates the intensity of use by passengers and freight companies, the quality of service and safety.
To assess quality of service, the report’s authors looked at such aspects as punctuality of trains, speed and the affordability of travel on a per passenger/kilometre basis.
Switzerland’s top ranking stems in part from the high volume of passengers carried on its railways, which are largely state-owned.
“it also has a good rating for quality of service and a very good rating for safety.”
The report says that safety is the greatest variable determining performance among European national network systems.
Eighth-ranked Great Britain has the highest safety rating, tied with Denmark, but its quality of service rating is "poor.”
The index puts Bulgaria at the bottom, ahead of Portugal and Poland.
Boston Consulting notes that Swiss railways benefit from high public subsidies and investments that are among the highest in Europe on a per capita basis.
The consultant investigated the most effective model for allocating public subsidies between infrastructure managers and train-operating companies.
"Our study indicates that the model for allocating public subsidies correlates with a railway system’s performance," said report co-author Sylvain Duranton.
"Simply put, countries that get the most value from public spending on railway systems also allocate the highest percentage of subsidies."
Last year, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the main rail operator in Switzerland, received more than 2.2 billion francs in government subsidies.
In referendums, Swiss citizens have also repeatedly supported major investments in railway infrastructure.
The report will be publicly accessible at bcgperspectives.com as of Friday.
Graph from Boston Consulting Group report.