RABDe 500

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RABDe 500 041 William Barbey at Lugano.
An RABDe 500 at speed.
Two coupled RABDe 500
Inside view of the ICN restaurant (SBB-CFF-FFS Bistro)

The RABDe 500 (often nicknamed ICN for Intercity-Neigezug, German for Intercity Tilting Train), is a Swiss high speed passenger train which was introduced in 2000, in time for Expo.02 held in western Switzerland in 2002. Its maximum speed is 200 km/h (120 mph), which can be reached on the Mattstetten–Rothrist new line; as of 2018 the RABDe 500 uses the branch to Solothurn only; the ICNs reach 200 km/h in the new Gotthard Base Tunnel. The train sets were a joint development by Bombardier, Swiss Federal Railways and Alstom, with an aerodynamic body designed by Pininfarina, bogies and tilting mechanism designed by the then SIG, Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft.

Forty-four RABDe 500 trains with a total of 308 coaches were delivered to SBB-CFF-FFS between 1999 and 2005. The RABDe 500 often run with two complete compositions, each with seven carriages, both including a dining car. The outer four of the seven carriages are second class. All compartments have electric power supply sockets and mobile phone reception enhancers.

Delivery of class RABDe 500 was delayed by a lack of supplies from ADtranz. Nevertheless, all trainsets were operational for the national exposition Expo.02. The RABDe 500 trains are operated by Swiss Federal Railways.


RABDe 500 started commercial operation on 28 May 2000, with services from St. Gallen via Winterthur, Zürich and Biel/Bienne to Lausanne.

As of 2018 the RABDe 500 provide service on the following lines:[1]

RABDe 500 030 ICN "Louis Chevrolet" at Winterthur
RABDe 500 departing from Delémont (Delémont Railway Station)

The trainsets are used on other lines as well, as IC (Intercity) or IR (Interregio) trains.

IC51 Travel Times
Stations Basel SBB Laufen Delémont Moutier Grenchen Nord Biel/Bienne
Basel SBB N/A 0:17 0:39 0:48 0:57 1:07
Laufen 0:18 N/A 0:16 0:30 0:39 0:49
Delémont 0:30 0:11 N/A 0:09 0:18 0:28
Moutier 0:45 0:26 0:10 N/A 0:08 0:18
Grenchen Nord 0:53 0:34 0:18 0:07 N/A 0:09
Biel/Bienne 1:04 0:45 0:29 0:18 0:10 N/A
Railways Basel-Biel/Bienne Railway

Technical Information[edit]

Demonstration of the Tilting-Technology of a SBB RABDe 500 in stand.
Inside view of the ICN quiet zone (First class only)

The RABDe 500 is an electrical multiple unit. The (body hung) motors as well as the transformers are located under the second class cars, which are the first two and the last two cars in each trainset. The first class cars and the restaurant car are non-motored, they carry pantograph and transformer. The centre car of each trainset has no traction equipment. Design of the driver's cab as well as the electrical equipment is based on the design of the SBB Re 460 locomotives, using more modern GTO circuits for the traction inverters. The design of the inverters was used for the large class of Italian locomotive FS Class E.464.

The RABDe 500 can operate at up to 200 km/h (120 mph) when under ETCS level 2 supervision, and 160 km/h (99 mph) if the line is equipped with conventional signalling, negotiating curves about 10% faster than non tilting trains. The train was not primarily designed for speed, but to reduce journey time on winding lines such as Olten via Biel/Bienne to Lausanne/Geneva.

The 18 trainsets 500 000 – 500 017 were adapted for operation in the new Gotthard Base Tunnel in 2015/2016. Amongst other measures fire detection equipment was fitted.[2] New non tilting trains RABDe 501 will be used on the Gotthard line in the future,[3] the RABDe 500 are to be used on lines with more curves.

Inside view of the ICN second class corridor

All 44 trainsets are being refurbished between 2012 and 2019, an overhaul taking 25 days per train.[4]

Table of similar trainsets worldwide[edit]

Mark Operator Seats Length [mm] Tare Weight [t] No of units Max conti power [MW] Tilting Body width [cm] Body material Max speed [km/h] Launched
RABDe 500 SBB 431 188,800 355 7 6.2 [5] electromechanical 283 cm light alloy 200 km/h 2001
Acela Amtrak, USA 304 202,910 565.2 2 (dual locomotive) 9.2 electromechanical 318 cm Steel, light alloy 257 2000
Virgin Pendolino Avanti West Coast, UK 589 266,000 567 9 5.95 electromechanical 273 cm light alloy 225 2002
AVE S-102 Renfe 318 200,000 322 12(excl loco) 8.8 yes 294.2 cm light alloy (coach) 330 2002
ICE 1 DB 645 357,920 779.8 12 (excl loco) 9.6 no 302 cm light alloy (coach) 280 1991
ICE 3 DB 415 200,320 409 8 8.0 no 295 cm light alloy 300 2000
Thalys SNCF 377 200,000 385 10 (excl loco) 8.8 no --- --- 300 1997
500 Series JR 1,324 404,000 632 16 18.24 no 338 light alloy 300 1997


Train sets used for the Expo.02 national exposition in Switzerland carried a typewriter-font "permettre le futur" text on the outside of the train along with literary quotes from various prominent Swiss writers.


All forty-four RABDe 500 trains are named after famous Swiss scholars, artists, writers, politicians, engineers, and architects.[6] Each RABDe 500 bears the portrait of its namesake, painted by Bernese painter Martin Fivian, in the first class coach No 3; in addition, plaques with short biographical information can be found at every entrance.

List of names:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SBB webpages about train use". SBB. SBB. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  2. ^ Ertüchtigung nationale Bestandsflotte SBB
  3. ^ "SBB page on Giruno EMU". SBB page on train use. SBB. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Complete overhaul of the Intercity tilting trains". Stories SBB. SBB. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  5. ^ http://documents.epfl.ch/users/a/al/allenbac/www/documents/Fich0319.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  6. ^ "ICN portraits (in German, French and Italian)" (PDF). SBB. Retrieved 25 October 2018.

External links[edit]