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RABDe 500 041 William Barbey at Lugano.
An RABDe 500 at speed.
Two connected RABDe 500

The RABDe 500 (often nicknamed ICN for Intercity-Neigezug, German for Intercity Tilting Train, the train category for which these trains are used), is a Swiss passenger train which was introduced in 2000, in time for Expo.02 held in western Switzerland in 2002. Its maximum speed is 200 Kilometers Per Hour (124 Miles per hour), which can be reached on the Mattstetten–Rothrist new line; however, as of 2011 the RABDe 500 is not currently used on this line, except on the branch to Solothurn; the ICN reaches 200 km/h though in the new Gotthard Base Tunnel. It was a joint development by Bombardier, Swiss Federal Railways and Alstom, with an aerodynamic body designed by Pininfarina. The design of the driver's cab was well as the electrical engineering was taken over from the SBB Re 460 locomotives. The transformers are located in the 2nd waggon (from the point and the end), the motors are in the first and last waggon.

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 (which is located between 1st and 2nd class). Four of the seven carriages are second class. All compartments have electric power supply sockets and mobile phone reception enhancers.

The introduction of the RABDe 500 was delayed by a lack of supplies from ADtranz. Nevertheless, its rolling stock was fully in use by the time for the Expo.

The RABDe 500 trains are operated by Swiss Federal Railways.


The RABDe 500 was put into service on 28 May 2000, with services from St. Gallen via Winterthur, Zürich and Biel/Bienne to Lausanne.

As of December 2009,[1] the RABDe 500 provides ICN services on the following lines:

  • Geneva Airport – Biel/Bienne – Zurich – St. Gallen
  • Lausanne – Biel/Bienne – Zurich – St. Gallen
  • Geneva Airport – Biel/Bienne – Delémont – Basel SBB
  • Lausanne – Biel/Bienne – Delémont – Basel SBB
  • Basel SBB – Lucerne – Gotthard – Lugano – Chiasso
  • Zurich – Gotthard – Lugano – Chiasso


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. In each train composition, a brief introduction of the featured writer was placed near the door.

Technical Information[edit]

Demonstration of the Tilting-Technology of a SBB RABDe 500 in stand.

The RABDe 500 is an electrical multiple unit - there is no locomotive in the classical sense. The motors as well as the transformers are located under the second class cars, which are the first and the last two cars in each trainset. The first class cars and the restaurant car are spared the electrical noises from the asynchronous motors.

The RABDe 500 can operate at up to 200 km/h when under ETCS level 2 supervision, and 160 km/h if the line is equipped with conventional signalling. The train was not primarily designed for speed, as there are still very few routes where 200 km/h can be reached as of 2017. The SBB company thus ordered the trains to reach higher speeds on the curve-rich line between Olten and Lausanne/Geneva, thanks to its tilting mechanism.

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 [2] yes --- light alloy 200 km/h 2001
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


All forty-four RABDe 500 trains are named after famous Swiss scholars, artists, writers, politicians, engineers, and architects.[3] 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]


External links[edit]