Epic can be used to describe many of the train routes crossing the mountainous regions of Switzerland. Since last December passenger trains traveling from Zurich to Milan pass through the very base of the imposing Alps, via the new 57 km Gotthard Basetunnel. Called the project of the century, it is the longest and deepest rail tunnel in the world. The Rhaetian Railway network in eastern Switzerland crosses the Bernina pass, listed in the UNESCO world heritage as the highest transalpine railway link and one of the steepest railways in the world with a 7 percent incline. The Jungfraubahn travels beneath the famed Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau summits through tunnels hewn out of mountains until reaching Europe’s highest rail station at 3,454 meters above sea at the top of the iconic Jungfraujoch.
These rail networks all have something more in common than traversing the Swiss Alps. They will all also operate with trains from Stadler, driven by innovative ABB components.
Both companies share a common background as pioneering companies with Swiss origins. Since 1891 ABB has been at the heart of the rail industry providing the power and equipment to move people and freight across countries and continents. The company’s predecessor, BBC, was one of the driving forces behind the electrification of the Swiss railway network and was involved in the electrification of the rugged Gotthard line between 1921-1924 as well.
Stadler began as a company that originally produced diesel and battery-electric tractors for works railways and industrial lines. The company is now one of the world’s largest international suppliers of multiple unit passenger trains, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
ABB has had a long-standing partnership with the Swiss train maker, suppling traction transformers, traction converters, onboard power supply systems and battery chargers on Stadler trains. Modern Stadler trains driven by ABB’s reliable traction equipment operate throughout Switzerland and elsewhere around the world; for example the United States, Norway and Hungary. ABB traction equipment drives over 2,500 Stadler vehicles, including Light rail vehicles, Metros, Regional, Intercity, High-speed and mountain trains.
Innovation is in ABB’s DNA. ABB’s drive packages on Stadler trains were specifically developed to meet the demands of the Rhaetian Railway’s network, including muscling up the steep grades in the region as well as including the line’s direct-current and alternating current electrical systems. Rhaetian Railways' Allegra train sets, delivered by Stadler in 2010 and 2011, form the backbone of the Graubünden region’s world-class sustainable transportation network.
Allegra trains are also equipped with an energy-efficient drive package from ABB, which generates electricity while descending grades across the network for trains climbing back up the mountains. The package consists of compact traction converters and transformers that are specially designed to withstand the tough conditions in the mountainous region. The Allegra trains are also equipped with an ABB traction system that turns them into Alpine icebreakers. The train’s converters and transformers, relying on sophisticated software that recognizes when ice is building up, automatically react to create an artificial arc, keeping electricity flowing and vaporizing any ice left on the wires.
Starting in 2019 Stadler's new multi-system-capable high-speed trains with innovative ABB drive technology will run between Zurich and Milan through the Gottard Basetunnel. The low-floor high-speed train in the world will make the journey through the Alps much more pleasant for the passenger. The EC250 high-speed train, known as the Giruno and manufactured by Stadler, will be traveling through the new Gotthard tunnel at a maximum speed of 250 km per hour. This impressive speed is made possible by a powerful electrical drive system comprising traction transformers, traction converters and battery chargers supplied by ABB. The new compact battery charger of the series, BORDLINE® BC, translates into dramatically reduced size, weight, and cooling requirements, and increased system efficiency, all critical factors for rail operators.
For rail operators there is strong confidence in working with long term partners such as Stadler and ABB, who collaborate to provide deep industry expertise and the latest innovations.