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Red, white, and black trains pass a blue lake at speed
Two RABDe trainsets passing Lake Biel in 2011
Inside view of the ICN second class corridor
In service2000–present
Number built44
Number in service44
Formation7 cars
Fleet numbers500 000–500 043
Owner(s)Swiss Federal Railways
Line(s) served
Train length188,800 mm (619 ft 5 in)
Maximum speed200 km/h (125 mph)
Weight355 t (349 long tons; 391 short tons)
Power output5,200 kW (7,000 hp)
Electric system(s)15 kV  16.7 Hz AC
ICN Double Set (Robert Walser facing buffers) stationed at Zurich HB Platform 10

The SBB RABDe 500, also known as the ICN,[a] 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 (124 mph), and it employs tilting technology, which allows it to travel through curvy routes faster than non-tilting trains. 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 and a seating capacity of 480,[3] both including a dining car. The outer four of the seven carriages are second class.


Swiss Federal Railways ordered an initial 24 7-car trainsets in 1996 at a cost of CHF 500 million. The contract went to a consortium including Adtranz, Schindler Waggon [de], and Fiat-SIG.[4] Pininfarina designed the vehicle body.[5] The trains were intended for use on the Jura Foot Line; adopting tilting technology allowed SBB to defer track upgrades over the route.[6]

The first trainsets entered service on the 28 May 2000 timetable change, running from St. Gallen via Winterthur, Zürich and Biel/Bienne to Lausanne.[7] All 24 trainsets were in service by the opening of the Expo.02 national exposition in May 2002. The trains all carried the slogan "enable the future" (French: Permettre le futur).[8]

SBB ordered another 10 trainsets, with an option for 10 more, in June 2001. SBB exercised the option that December, for a total of 20 additional transets at CHF 420 million.[9][2] Delivery was complete by 2005.[1]

Formerly, SBB designated intercity services operated by the SBB RABDe 500 as "ICN", differentiating them from other InterCity (IC) and InterRegio (IR) services. This practice ceased with the December 2017 timetable changes, in which all IC and IR services gained numbers and the ICN category was eliminated.[10] RABDe 500-operated services are indicated on timetables and mobile applications by the "TT" label.[11]

All 44 trainsets were refurbished between 2012 and 2019, an overhaul taking 25 days per train.[12] Another overhaul, taking place between 2021 and 2029, will replace the interiors and improve mobile phone reception.[13]

As of the December 2022 timetable change, the RABDe 500 is primarily used on two InterCity routes: the IC 5, running from Geneva Airport to Rorschach or from Lausanne to Zürich HB; and the IC 51, running from Basel SBB to Biel/Bienne.[14]


Each formation is composed of seven cars. The first two and last two cars in the trainset are the second class cars, and have the traction motors and powered axles. The three middle cars carry first class seating; the third car is split between first class and the restaurant car.[1] The formation is 188,800 mm (619 ft 5 in) long and weighs 355 t (349 long tons; 391 short tons). The car body is a monocoque design built out of aluminium.[5]

The RABDe 500 can tilt at a maximum of 8 degrees.[7] Eight 650-kilowatt (870 hp) traction motors produce 5,200 kilowatts (7,000 hp); the train can travel at a maximum speed of 200 kilometres per hour (124 mph).[1] On routes with a significant number of curves, the tilting technology could reduce travel times by 10-20%.[15] For example, on the Lausanne–St. Gallen route, the introduction of the trains shortened travel times by 15 minutes.[7]

In 2015–2016, eighteen trainsets were adapted for operation in the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Changes included improved fire detection equipment, cab signaling upgrades, and improvements to heating and cooling.[15] This was a temporary measure until newer non-tilting trains SBB RABe 501 Giruno trains became available.[16]


All forty-four RABDe 500 trains are named after famous Swiss scholars, artists, writers, politicians, engineers, and architects. Each train bears the portrait of its namesake, painted by Bernese painter Martin Fivian, in the third car (first class and restaurant).[17]

List of names:[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ German: Intercity-Neigezug, lit.'intercity tilting train'[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Haydock, David (2016). Swiss railways: locomotives, multiple units and trams (4th ed.). Sheffield: Platform 5. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-909431-23-2.
  2. ^ a b "SBB bestellen weitere zehn ICN-Neigezüge". (in German). 21 December 2001. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  3. ^ "Swiss Tilting Trains - Railwey Technology". Railway Technology. 28 January 1999. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Schweizer Firmen bauen InterCity-Neigezüge". Thuner Tagblatt (in German). 4 July 1996. p. 3. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Swiss Tilting Trains". Railway Technology. 28 January 1999. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  6. ^ Harris, Ken, ed. (2001). Jane's World Railways (43rd ed.). Jane's. p. 363. ISBN 978-0-7106-2335-5.
  7. ^ a b c Weiss, Theo (24 May 2000). "Die neuen Intercity-Neigezüge der SBB". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). p. 79.
  8. ^ "Permettre le futur". L'Express (in French). 23 March 2002. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  9. ^ "Zusätzliche IC-Neigezüge für die SBB". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). 27 June 2001. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  10. ^ "Route numbers to identify SBB's long-distance services". Railway Gazette. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  11. ^ "ICN: the InterCity tilting train connects Switzerland's city centres". SBB. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  12. ^ "Complete overhaul of the Intercity tilting trains". Stories SBB. SBB. Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  13. ^ Sapién, Josephine Cordero (24 February 2020). "SBB ICN Intercity Tilting Trains to Undergo Full Refurbishment". Railway-News. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  14. ^ "Annual formation". Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Ertüchtigung nationale Bestandsflotte SBB" (PDF) (in German). p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2016.
  16. ^ "SBB page on Giruno EMU". SBB page on train use. SBB. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  17. ^ Meile, Rahel (9 November 2012). "Trains culturels" (in French). Blog CFF. Archived from the original on 23 March 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • König, Christian; Forrer, Daniel (1998). "Der SBB-Neigezug ICN zwei Jahre nach der Bestellung". Eisenbahn-Revue International (in German). No. 10. pp. 422–431.

External links[edit]