Switzerland - Cisalpino, the former SBB & Trenitalia joint venture

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Cisalpino was one of the first Swiss railroad companies without even a piece of a railroad track of its own. When Germany started with its own super-fast ICE bullet trains, France had its TGV bullet trains and many other countries also moved on to this new era of EMU trains, Switzerland felt that it also needed to do something. SBB bought from France one TGV train and put it in traffic between Lausanne and France. But that was not enough. The country itself is ridiculously small and the SBB´s network is far too curvaceous for real bullet train use, but an opportunity to replace the old, popular TEE or Trans-Europ-Express trains between Zürich and Milano soon opened up. A new, private joint venture company was set up, with both the Swiss state SBB and the Italian FS as partners. The trains themselves were similar Fiat Pendolinos as FS had already in use.

Cisalpino was never a success. The Fiat made Pendolino trains of the Italian class ETR 470 were of lousy quality and very soon got a very bad reputation. Cisalpino soon ordered newer Pendolinos of the class ETR 610 and also in the meantime operated some trains with leased Bombardier TRAXX locomotives and conventional express train coaches, but finally the bad quality of Italian work was too much for the Swiss. The Italian FS Trenitalia was supposed to be responsible for mainitaining Cisalpino's trains, but the Swiss side was never happy with the service. Finally enough was enough and SBB cancelled the joint venture. Cisalpino ceased to exist and its trains were divided 50:50 between SBB and Trenitalia. SBB pulled very soon all the ETR 470 Pendolinos out of service. The newer ETR 610 or "Cis Due" trains were better and SBB even ordered more of them in a second series. Trenitalia continues using its older Pendolinos both in the traffic to Switzerland and also in the Italian domestic train market, but the quality obviously did not much improve. In 2019 it was announced that the ex-Cisalpino ETR 470 Pendolinos will all be renovated and modified to run on 25 kV AC and then they will be handed over to the Greek TrainOSE which in the meantime was bought by Trenitalia.

Here the Pendolino is on its way from Milano via Zürich to Stuttgart in Germany and photographed while stopping at Bülach. The ETR 470 is/was technically similar to the Italian original Pendolino ETR 460, except that it can operate at dual voltages, both in the Italian DC 3000V and the Swiss/German AC 15 kV networks. Motors are under the floor. The train operates always as a nine coach unit, 236,6 metres long. The whole train weighs 460 tons and can reach a speed of 200 km/h. The active "tilting" technology can make the train lean sideways up to 8 degrees in curves, thus allowing far greater speeds. Cisalpino had seven ETR 470 Pendolinos; this one shown on the picture was the no.5.

Picture in September 2001 from Bülach station in Switzerland by Ilkka Siissalo.


There it goes: the remarkable length of the Pendolino ETR 470 of over 230 metres shows well as the train is leaving Bülach station towards Germany and Stuttgart. Today these trains are all history. The Swiss SBB did not save a single one of these hated trains. Picture in September 2001 from Bülach station by Ilkka Siissalo.


Cisalpino's Pendolino ETR 470 no.9 at Zürich main station 2.11.2002. Picture by Ilkka Siissalo.


One of Cisalpino's Pendolino ETR 470 trains is stopping at Padova station in Italy on its way to Venezia.
Picture 10.7.2007 by Ilkka Siissalo.


The same train as above, but seen in the other direction. They were nice looking trains - if only they would have been reliable.
Picture from Padova Italy 10.7.2007 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Still the same train as in two previous shots.
Picture from Padova Italy 10.7.2007 by Ilkka Siissalo.


This is another Cisalpino ETR 470 train and it is here seen in Cisalpino's last corporate livery, grey with a dark blue stripe. But this picture has been taken after the Cisalpino as a company was closed down and its trains were split 50:50 between SBB and Trenitalia. This Cisalpino Pendolino no.8 has then received a Trenitalia sticker on its front. Now in 2019 Trenitalia is preparing to send all of its remaining trains of this type to Greece. In the background a Trenitalia ETR 500 Frecciarossa train can be seen.
Picture from Milano Centrale station 3.10.2013 by Kyösti Isosaari.


A former Cisalpino train, this is the "Cis Due" or New Pendolino of the Fiat Ferroviaria type ETR610, here already repainted in SBB's own livery instead of the Cisalpino joint venture livery. The first ones of these new Pendolinos were taken in use by Cisalpino and painted in Cisalpino's new blue and grey livery. When the joint venture company was shut down, SBB repainted this fleet in its own white livery and also ordered more of these same trains.
Picture from Zürich Hauptbahnhof 1.10.2015 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Also this one is a former Cisalpino ETR610 train, but this is one of those units that went to FS Trenitalia after the breakup of the Cisalpino joint venture. Trenitalia has been using them both in traffic from Italy to Switzerland but also - like here - in Italian domestic traffic. Here this train was on the Rome to Venezia service.
Picture from Bologna 1.12.2014 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Another one of the former Cisalpino Cis Due trains, this ETR 610 is now in the colours of FS Trenitalia.
Picture from Spiez, Switzerland, December 2019 by Stefano Bressanelli.
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