The total value of the contract is SFr 980m ($US 1.1bn) and the first trains will enter service at the end of 2019, intitially between Milan and Basle/Zurich. The multi-system 11-car articulated trains will be 200m long and will accommodate up to 400 passengers. The trains will operate in multiple, offering around 70% more seating than the ETR 470 Pendolino tilting emus currently used on this route, which are due to be phased out by the end of this year. The ETR470s will be replaced by ICN and ETR610 trains on an interim basis pending the delivery of the EC250 fleet.

The new trains will be certified for operation in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Austria and the contract includes options for up to 92 additional sets.

"The decision was clear: Stadler Rail was by far the best at meeting the criteria we set and is offering us a very customer-friendly train," says SBB CEO Mr Andreas Meyer. Stadler scored highest in the two main bidding criteria of cost effectiveness (40%) and innovation (25%). The other two bidders shortlisted for the contract were Alstom and Talgo.

"We are very proud that we were able to offer an optimal concept for the exacting requirements laid out in the tender," commented Stadler Rail CEO Mr Peter Spühler. Around 80% of production will be carried out in Switzerland, with final assembly taking place at the Stadler works in Bussnang.

With the Gotthard and Ceneri Base Tunnels set to bring a significant reduction in journey times, SBB forecasts passenger numbers on the Gotthatrd route will rise from around 9000 per day to 15,000 per day by 2020 and more than 18,000 per day by 2025.