German-speaking countries have the both best and worst railway stations in Europe.

Looking at the 50 busiest locations in Europe, the 2023 European Railway Station Index found that the main stations in Zurich, Vienna and Berlin offer the best conditions for travelers on the continent. Given the global reputation of Germany and its neighbors for rail excellence, those top places may come as no surprise. Further down the list, however, comes something more unexpected. Out of all 50 stations assessed, the bottom six are all in Germany.

The internet is awash with best and worst lists of dubious value, but this one is worth considering. The metrics that the European Railway Station Index uses to assess stations are thorough, encompassing opening hours, ticket options and waiting times to purchase, as well as a station’s connections and number of delayed services. It looks additionally at access for people with limited mobility, shops, lounges and food options, the quality of information offered and the accessibility to taxis and ride-hailing services, awarding points out of a maximum 123 for each. It’s worth noting the trends it highlights — that Europe’s best major stations are overwhelmingly north of the Alps, and that stations where longer-distance services are concentrated tend to offer far better conditions than those dominated by short-stretch commuters.

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