Why Zurich Hauptbahnhof is the ‘best’ train station in mainland Europe

Zurich’s Hauptbahnhof, as it is locally known, rates at the top on the continent in terms of ‘passenger convenience’, a new internatIonal ranking shows.

Why Zurich Hauptbahnhof is the 'best' train station in mainland Europe
An athlete entertains passengers at Zürich's railway station. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Switzerland’s largest and busiest train hub got high scores in the 2020 European Railway Index, ranking second after London’s St. Pancras station. 

Zurich central station scored 111 points on the index behind St Pancras which topped the table on 116 points (see below). The highest possible score was 139.

Bern rail station was ranked just outside the top 10 in 11th position.

Interestingly Germany had five stations in Europe's top 10.

The Index, compiled by an international consumer advocacy group, The Consumer Choice Center, ranked Europe’s 50 largest railway stations in terms of ‘passenger experience’.

Among the main factors taken into account were how crowded the platforms are, overall cleanliness, wheelchair accessibility, the number of domestic and international destinations, as well as shopping and dining venues.

Zurich's central station scored a maximum 100 percent for “cleanliness” and was also marked highly for having elevators down to platforms and its general “accessibility”.

The signage was given a score of 90 percent with the station described as “clear and easy to find your way”.

The Hauptbahnhof has an abundance of conveniences for passengers passing through Zürich, which boosted its position in the rankings.

These perks include the ShopVille shopping mall with 202 stores, as well as a variety of restaurants – 62 in total –  and coffee shops, including the iconic Sprüngli chocolate maker. 

The station scored highly for “competition” given that four different rail companies use the station and for being connected to local travel networks.

READ ALSO: Swiss train etiquette: What annoys passengers in Switzerland the most?

Nearly 3,000 trains arrive and depart from the station’s 26 platforms daily, including to and from 10 international destinations in Germany, Austria, France, and Italy.

Some 470,000 passengers pass through the station each day.

In August last year There was good news for non-smokers when Zurich's 'Hauptbahnhof' train station went almost completely smoke-free.

Smoking and vaping is now only be allowed in small, clearly-marked areas on certain station platforms.

“People who don't want anything to do with smoking can keep away [from those areas],” a spokesperson for the public transport union VöV told Swiss national broadcaster SRF at the time.

The changes at Zurich main station are part of a nationwide roll-out of designated smoking areas at Switzerland's train stations

READ MORE: Commuting workers in Switzerland can now be paid for work done on the train 

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Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

Switzerland’s Federal Railways (SBB) will be removing the ticket counter from nine stations in the cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Bern, Zug and Ticino

Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

The SBB made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the decision was made due to a lack of demand. 

Instead, commuters will need to buy tickets from automated machines. 

In the canton of Zurich, the ticket stations in Dietlikon, Hinwil, Kloten, Männedorf and Oberwinterthur will be closed. 

In neighbouring Zug, Cham’s ticket counter will be closed, while the Herzogenbuchsee station in Bern will also go fully automated. 

MAPS: The best commuter towns when working in Zurich

In Latin Switzerland, Pully in Vaud and Biasca in Ticino will see their ticket counters closed. 

The SBB told Swiss news outlet Watson that approximately 95 percent of ticket sales are now made via self-service machines or online. 

The advent of navigation apps has meant the need for personal advice on directions and travel has fallen, particularly in smaller areas or stations with lower traffic.