The Giruno trains are 11-car, low floor, electric, multiple unit system passenger trains. Credit: Stadler.
The Giruno high-speed trains are manufactured by Stadler Rail. Credit: SBB/CFF/FFS.
The maximum speed of the Giruno trains is 250km/h. Credit: Stadler.

The Giruno high-speed train, also called SMILE or the Gotthard train, developed by Swiss railway rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail, runs between Zurich, Switzerland, and Milan, Italy, through the Gotthard Base Tunnel. It also runs from Frankfurt to Milan, representing a significant advancement in Swiss rail transport. 

The Giruno low-floor high-speed multipleunit train was rolled out by Stadler in May 2017. The train was first displayed to the public at InnoTrans 2016, the world’s largest trade show for the rail transport sector held in Berlin. 

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has been operating a fleet of 29 Giruno trains since December 2019 from Basel/Zurich to Lugano/Milan and on to Genoa, Bologna and Venice. SBB intends to extend its international services to Germany, starting in 2026, with the addition of seven more Giruno trains capable of running on the high-speed Deutsche Bahn (DB) network. The trains will run between Switzerland and Germany via Basel. 

Additionally, SBB plans to introduce five more Giruno high-speed trains to enhance its international services to Italy. The trains will be designed to improve connectivity along the north-south axis between Switzerland and Italy. Trenitalia, the state-owned train operator in Italy, and SBB will work together to expand the services further, particularly on the Gotthard line. 

The trains are manufactured at Stadler’s production plant in Bussnang, Switzerland. 

In April 2019, the Giruno trains received approval from the Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT) to run at 200km/h in single traction, followed by double traction in May 2019, on the Swiss network. In March 2020, the Railway Agency of the European Union (ERA) approved the trains to run in double traction at 200km/h in Italy. 

Giruno trains design and features

The Giruno or EC250 trains, based on the proven Fast Light Innovative Regional Train (FLIRT) model, embody a modern and efficient design suitable for high-speed travel. The electric multi-system trains stretch to a length of 202m and can reach a maximum speed of 250km/h. 

The trains feature 405 seats, with 117 allocated to first class, which includes a business zone and quiet zone, and 288 to second class.  

The car bodies are constructed with a pressure-proof design, incorporating advanced thermal and acoustic insulation to enhance passenger comfort. 

The inclusion of a low-floor entrance area represents a pioneering feature among serial-produced high-speed trains, greatly enhancing passenger boarding convenience. Once inside, passengers are greeted with a generously spacious and well-lit interior, complemented by a modern lighting scheme. 

The seats are numbered in Braille and are attached to lowheight open waste bins. Priority seating is available for passengers with reduced mobility, ensuring inclusivity in the train’s design.  

The Giruno trains are designed to meet the crashworthiness requirements specified in DIN EN 15227 and are certified as per the standards of TSI quality services for high-speed trains. 

The capability for double traction operation allows the trains to offer up to 810 seats over a length of 400m, doubling the capacity and providing a more flexible solution for increased passenger volumes. 

Passenger facilities at Giruno

Developed with a focus on comfort and user-friendliness, the Giruno trains are Europe’s first fully barrier-free trains, which comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, ensuring accessibility for all passengers. 

The train surpasses the specifications outlined in the Law on Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities, offering approximately double the required number of wheelchair-accessible spaces and toilets.  

The spacious and bright interior, along with stepless entry, enhances the travel experience for all passengers, including those with restricted mobility, the elderly, and families with children.  

The trains are equipped to accommodate different platform heights across Switzerland, Austria and Italy (55cm), as well as Germany (76cm). 

To ensure passenger comfort during long journeys, the EC250 features various amenities, including a 4G-/3G-WLAN cell phone signal booster for reliable connectivity, power sockets at every seat, ample overhead luggage storage, energy-saving LED lighting, and gender-separated restroom facilities. 

The trains also feature electronic seat reservation indicators, coach occupation indicators, multifunctional zones, and compartments for bicycles, prams, and luggage. 

The high level of accessibility is complemented by a family zone and an easily accessible restaurant car with 17 seats, with special folding tables for wheelchair spaces. 

Power details aboard the Giruno trains

The Giruno trains feature four motorised bogies, with each axle being driven to produce a maximum output of 6,000kW at the wheel. The trains are equipped with four pantographs and utilise the TMF 50-33-4 traction motor. 

Service expansion reasons and benefits

SBB provides its services to Germany utilising the Astoro (ETR610) and Eurocity compositions obtained in the late 1980s. The Eurocity trains, however, fail to meet the speed criteria for the intended service concept and are unsuitable for the intended purpose. Additionally, the existing Astoro trains that are compatible with the high-speed network are already deployed on other high-speed routes and are thus unavailable. SBB has, therefore, opted to procure an additional seven Giruno trains from Stadler to address the shortfall. 

The demand for cross-border rail transportation between Germany and Switzerland has seen a notable increase in recent years. The expansion of services will result in increasing the daily direct connections between Switzerland and Germany from 26 to 35. Two new daily direct connections from Hamburg through Basel to Lugano will enhance the north-south axis via the Gotthard.
The possibility of offering more direct connections from Germany to Milan is enabled by utilising the Giruno on the route. 

Additionally, new direct connections from Germany through Bern to Valais will be established and the travel time between the two countries will be further shortened. 

Orders and deliveries of the Giruno trains

SBB placed an order for 29 high-speed multiple-unit trains with Stadler in October 2014, with the possibility of acquiring up to 92 more trains. The final delivery of 29 trains was completed in May 2021. 

In June 2022, SBB further ordered seven Giruno trains worth SFr250m ($251m) to expand its services on the DB high-speed network in Germany. The trains must be capable of reaching speeds of 250km/h on DB’s high-speed lines. 

In February 2024, SBB placed an additional order for five Giruno trains worth SFr170m ($195m) to facilitate expansion in Italy, bringing the total Giruno fleet to 41 trains by 2026. The additional orders are part of the existing option rights on a total of 92 vehicles. 

The vehicles are scheduled to operate between Basel, Switzerland, and Germany in 2026. 

Contractors involved

The design of the new Giruno trains was entrusted to Nose Design Experience, a Swiss design agency, ensuring that the aesthetic and functional aspects of the trains meet the highest standards. 

Traktionssysteme Austria, a traction motor manufacturer, supplied the traction motors for the Giruno trains.