Railroad services - most efficient countries 2019

It probably comes as no surprise that in a global 2019 survey of railroad efficiency, the top two places went to Japan and Hong Kong, with scores of 6.8 and 6.5 (out of seven) respectively. What may come as a surprise though is that the United States raked a 12th place, with a score of 5.5, beating Germany and Russia, who both scored 4.9.


In the survey, efficiency was measured broadly, combining categories such as frequency, punctuality, speed and price. Of course, this measure is subjective and does not take into account external, objective factors. For example, the density of rail networks and overall levels of ridership do not appear to be reflected in the efficiency ratings.

Passenger rail

Broadly speaking, passenger rail can be divided into two categories: intercity and urban. Intercity rail runs between different cities, usually operated by a large, state-owned or subsidized national carrier such as Amtrak in the U.S. or Deutsche Bahn in Germany. Conversely, urban rail operates in a single city or metropolitan region, and can include a multitude of providers operating a combination of suburban trains, subway systems and light rail networks. Passenger rail volumes are much higher in the Asia Pacific region than anywhere else, followed by Europe then North America.

Ranking of the most efficient countries in train transport services in 2019

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

The source provides the following question and statement on the points rating: In your country, how efficient are train services? [1 = extremely inefficient—among the worst in the world; 7 = extremely efficient—among the best in the world].

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