Go and compare

Railfuture’s role is to campaign for a bigger, better railway in Britain. We want to equip our members and Branches with the strong arguments based on best practice worldwide. Many of our members travel abroad for business or leisure so the aim here is to capture impressions of systems in other countries from the viewpoint of a user, possibly unused to the system or the language. We are not looking for technical descriptions as there is much available information on this in the technical press.

We want your impressions as a Railfuture member of using other systems particularly in areas where we see the job as not done in Britain. Areas of interest, where where we can quote international best practice to stimulate improvements here, include: information and wayfinding, ticketing and fares (ie ease of use).

Also of specific interest to help our campaigning here, where there is so much more to be done in Britain, please keep a look out for how other operators are tackling disability access and how rail and light rail is part of a transport system - i.e. integration and city transport systems.

So on your next trip, please use your camera or phone or tablet, take pictures of good and bad practice (max 10Mb) and send your impressions to feedback at railfuture.org.uk. Our aim is to build up a knowledge bank here so we can refer to it to strengthen our arguments during our campaigning by being able to quote worldwide best practice.

In May 2016 we published our first Go and Compare glossy leaflet. It focused on Passenger Priorities - view or download it. 860Kb

In April 2016 the Transport Committee at Westminster announced that it would be holding a Parliamentary Inquiry into improving the Passenger Experience on Britain's railway. The scope looked at the information provided to passengers before, during and after journeys, ticketing, on-train facilities, performance measures and mechanisms to hold operators accountable. Railfuture has produced a photo-presentation on issues affecting the Passenger Experience and has used its research on railway International Best Practice. The slides can be viewed or downloaded (3.5MB)

Click on the headings, photos or 'Read More' link below to see more detail on each topic. Registered users may add their own comments to each article - email the webmaster using mmc at railfuture.org.uk for a login.

A Tale of Two Cities

Author: Ian Brown CBE FCILT - Published Thu 20 of Feb, 2020 19:46 GMT - (4157 Reads)
Go and Compare: Eurostar 25 years on, a Tale of Two Cities with new Rail/Air links, and how rail connections for foreign travel can help the environment. The British Royal Eurostar meets the French Presidential Eurostar nose to nose for the opening ceremony at Calais on 6th May 1994. Ours got there first! All photos by Ian Brown for Railfuture.

Balkan bustitution

Author: Ian Brown CBE FCILT - Published Thu 28 of Mar, 2019 20:31 GMT - (4098 Reads)
In the latest of our Go and Compare series, Ian Brown takes a bus from Zagreb to Ljubljana and compares it with the rail alternative, then travels from Ljubljana to Trieste by train and compares it with the bus alternative. The competition - the Flixbus on the properly signed stand on arrival at Ljubljana, going through to Florence arriving late the same evening. All photos by Ian Brown for Railfuture.

Go and Compare Athens

Author: Ian Brown CBE - Published Mon 17 of Dec, 2018 16:16 GMT - (5368 Reads)
Athens is a great city to visit and travel around. Despite the debt crisis but stimulated earlier by the 2004 Olympics the city has an excellent transport system with innovation precipitated by the lack of finance. We can learn from this for the Rail Review. The Athens card is all mode and comes as a contactless ticket for single journeys and day tickets and longer periods. Note the pictogram of modes available and the Metro showing at a lower level. It includes bike parking. All photos by Ian Brown for Railfuture.

Milan compared

Author: Ian Brown - Published Sun 07 of Jan, 2018 16:47 GMT - (4216 Reads)
A modern Trenord low platform double deck accessible train. The picture was taken at Come Ferro Nord station. Staffed with a waiting room, toilets and a really nice snack bar. All photos by Ian Brown CBE, Chair European Passenger Group, for Railfuture.

Go and Compare Berlin

Author: Ian Brown - Published Wed 06 of Jul, 2016 11:56 BST - (8667 Reads)
Railfuture’s Director of Policy, Ian Brown CBE was invited to visit Berlin for a few days in June, travelling out on the day of the Brexit referendum announcement. His first visit to Berlin saw the Berlin Wall come down, this visit ironically saw the barriers begin to rise. He took the opportunity to have a good look at the transport system, take photographs of good practice and compare the system with London.
Berlin's new Hauptbahnhof, a practical symbol of Germany's modern railway. All photos by Ian Brown for Railfuture.

Big Apple vs Orange

Author: Ian Brown - Published Tue 14 of Jun, 2016 22:37 BST - (7469 Reads)
New York, like London, has a complex metro system as well as an expanding network of suburban and main line rail routes.

Railfuture Policy Director, Ian Brown CBE spent time in New York in May on various jobs which included invitations to visit depots, control centres, rail projects and stations. It was a great opportunity to use the system quite intensively and to compare it with London’s rail transport network.

The "Oculus" Is this a station or a work of art? You can build a fine station for 4 billion dollars. This is the exterior of the new World Trade Centre station still partially under wraps which opened in April this year. The bird like design is a statement rather than a practical station roof. As expected it has become very controversial, but the station has potential for growth and is expected to rival Grand Central station as a destination in its own right. Photo, and all photos below, by Ian Brown for Railfuture. An artist’s impression of the completed structure is shown alongside.''

Prague compared

Author: Jerry Alderson - Published Sun 22 of May, 2016 21:40 BST - (6957 Reads)
Prague has a reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe (even if graffiti appears to be everywhere) but arriving in Prague on a long-distance train doesn’t give a good first impression of the Czech Republic’s capital city, especially if doing so at night. The above photo shows the view on a very dimly-lit platform.

Washington DC compared

Author: Ian Brown - Published Tue 03 of May, 2016 21:34 BST - (8159 Reads)
Washington DC has a developing network of Metro routes and suburban and long distance rail routes. Railfuture’s Policy Director, Ian Brown CBE spent a week working in Washington in April and took the opportunity to examine the Metro network, visit Washington Union main line station also travel on the two suburban rail systems as well as Amtrak’s Regional main line service to New York.
Restored glory in the form of the concourse at Washington Union station. The station serves as a hub for long distance and commuter services serving the City with good interchange on to the Washington Metro. All photos by Ian Brown for Railfuture.

Moscow compared

Author: Ian Brown - Published Wed 06 of Apr, 2016 17:50 BST - (8531 Reads)
Moscow is served by a huge system of long distance and suburban rail, an efficient Metro and tram system. Railfuture’s Policy Director, Ian Brown CBE, gives his impressions of using the system over a few days in April 2016 and visiting four of the main line stations.
Best practice station design. Many Moscow metro stations are extremely ornate. Here is an example of one which is not but shows best practice in terms of station design. Total access to the length of the train. No clutter. Escalators at each end. All photos by Ian Brown for Railfuture.

Hopping to catch a train

Author: Jerry Alderson - Published Mon 28 of Mar, 2016 20:16 BST - (6427 Reads)
Many railway passengers spend time nervously hoping to catch a train. However, Railfuture director Jerry Alderson spent a day in Vienna hopping to catch a train thanks to an accident that left him with a cast (bottom right photo) and hobbling around on crutches. Becoming a person of restricted mobility, albeit only for a couple of months, opened his eyes to how transport systems fail to cater properly for all their customers. His experience will certainly influence Railfuture’s campaigns to improve the rail-based systems in Britain.

In highly respected and advanced countries such as Austria the trams dating from the 1960s (top left photo from “Wiener Linien Blog” – all others by the author) are already being scrapped and modern trains are replacing the high-floor 1980s ones (bottom row) but passengers must still “mind the gap”.

Mountain of ideas

Author: Jerry Alderson - Published Tue 26 of Jan, 2016 19:17 GMT - (7648 Reads)
Railfuture campaigns for a bigger and better railway in Britain – one that is modern, innovative, welcoming and meets the growing expectations of passengers. There are a mountain of ideas that can be emulated from railways around the world. Salzburg provides a good starting point.

Accessible travel

Author: Ian Brown (edited and photos provided by Jerry Alderson) - Published Fri 16 of Oct, 2015 21:11 BST - (7409 Reads)
Railfuture champions rail passengers and campaigns for a bigger and better railway that is fit for purpose and provides a good passenger experience. A railway that is accessible to everyone is vital but British railway industry standards can be over the top adding millions to the cost of opening or enhancing stations as the ramps at Honeybourne (photo above) show, yet still fail to provide truly accessible travel. This article also looks at how accessibiilty is supported in other countries.

Tube Staffing

Author: Jerry Alderson - Published Sat 19 of Jul, 2014 17:31 BST - (11385 Reads)
Vienna's modern underground system relies upon far fewer customer-facing staff than London Underground but is enormously popular and well-run. It has plenty of space for passengers to move around without the need for staff to prevent overcrowding. If only London had this luxury.