Switzerland: Class RABe 501 "Giruno"

Also known as: Schneller Mehrsystemfähiger Innovativer Leichter Expresszug - SMILE, EC250

UIC / EVN numbering: 93 85 0 501

Railway companies: SBB - Swiss Federal Railways

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In April 2012, the Swiss Federal Railways issues a tender for 29 new single-deck trains, capable of reaching 250 km/h, for service on routes between Germany, Switzerland and Italy via the then under-construction Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Bids are placed by Stadler Rail, Siemens, Alstom and TALGO. All four bids are rejected by the Swiss Federal Railways and a second round takes place, at which point Siemens withdraws.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB_RABe_501


May 9th

On May 9th, 2014, the Swiss Federal Railways announce an order worth CHF 980'000'000 for 29x Stadler EC250s with an option for 92x additional units. The final signing is delayed, however, as Alstom and TALGO both launched legal challenges: Alstom withdraw theirs in September 2014, while TALGO's complaint - that the Swiss Federal Railways gave the domestic producer an advantage - is dismissed by the Federal Administrative Court in October 2014.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB_RABe_501


September 21st

The EC250's first public appearance - as a short 5-car set - is at InnoTrans 2016 in Berlin, Germany, by Stadler CEO, Peter Spuhler, and Swiss Federal Railways CEO, Andreas Meyer. It is presented as the first serial-produced low-floor high-speed train.

Quotation from the media release: "Proven technologies of the successful FLIRT product have been combined with the operational requirements of the new Gotthard Base Tunnel. Step-free access from both railway platform heights of 55 and 76 cm, pressure-tight design of the car bodies and advanced thermal and acoustic insulation set a new standard in long distance rail transport. EC250 has been developed with special focus on comfort and customer convenience, particularly for families, seniors and passengers with reduced mobility. The low-floor entrance area is a novelty for serial- produced high-speed trains, making the boarding for passengers convenient. Inside the train passengers find a spacious and bright interior and a state-of-the art lighting concept. Boredom is not an option even in long tunnels, because the EC250 is equipped with other comfort features like WLAN 4G-/3G- cell phone signal booster for good reception, power sockets for all seats, large overhead luggage racks and gender- separated toilets."

NB: InnoTrans is the world's largest trade fair focused on the rail transport industry. It is held every two years at the Messe Berlin exhibition centre, which has outdoor standard gauge railway sidings which can be used to exhibit railway vehicles. More details: www.innotrans.de

Sources: https://www.stadlerrail.com/media/pdf/2016_0921_mm_innotrans_sbb_ec250_en.pdf


May 18th

The first full 11-car set is presented at a ceremony in Bussnang on May 18th, 2017, which is also attended by the then Swiss President Doris Leuthard.



The EC250 is renamed as SMILE following a public competition.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB_RABe_501



In early April 2018, a test train unit ran through the Gotthard Tunnel at 275 km/h in order to meet approval conditions to operate up to 250 km/h on the line.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB_RABe_501



The Federal Office of Transport approves this service for Switzerland on April 4th, 2019, for speeds up to 200 km/h.

The unit is designed to comply with the TSI-High-speed regulations and meets the EN 15227 crashworthiness standards.

The cars are connected to Jacobs bogies and the propulsion system consists of four motorised bogies, powered from four roof-mounted electric current collectors. The electrification system is compatible with the Swiss and German 15 kV 16.7 Hz alternating current (AC) overhead power supplies, as well as with Italian 3 kV direct current (DC) and 25 kV 50 Hz electrification systems. The motorised bogies are reportedly capable of generating a maximum power output of 6000 kW.

Each 11-car train set is 200 metres long and has an empty weight of 380 tonnes. Each carriage has a width of 2.9 m and a height of 4.25 m. The wheelbase of the unpowered bogies is 2.7 m, while those of the motorised bogies are 2.75 m. The carriages do not have a uniform floor height as the seats at either end of each car are positioned above the bogies while the central aisle rises towards the carriage connection through ramps.

The low-floor entrances allow step-free access from platforms at heights between 550 mm and 760 mm and several accessible toilets and areas for wheelchairs are available, allowing the train to comply with the Law on Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities. As a long-distance train, it also features signal boosters for 3G/4G cellular phone networks, power sockets (both for Swiss and international plugs) and large luggage racks for passenger comfort, along with energy-efficient lighting. The interior is flexible, meaning it can be extensively refitted and modified to an operator's requirements.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB_RABe_501


May 8th

The first passenger revenue service is operated between Zürich and Erstfeld on May 8th, 2019, using Giruno unit 501 006.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB_RABe_501



The European Union Railway Agency approves the unit for service in Italy on March 2020 for speeds up to 200 km/h.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB_RABe_501

Latest update on the 23rd of January 2022 at 13:34

Contributor(s): Tudor C.

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