Under an agreement signed in July 2017, SOB will operate these services from December 2020 on behalf of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) using its own rolling stock, which will be co-branded SOB-SBB.

SOB says the long-term cooperation between the two railways will provide increased supply and comfort, and passengers will be able to travel over the scenic Gotthard line through Göschenen without changing trains at Erstfeld.

The new Stadler trains will feature 2+1 seating in first-class accommodation and there will also be a catering area and a family zone.

The order is an option from a contract for 11 Flirt EMUs for Lucerne - St Gallen Voralpen-Express services, which was signed in July 2016.

SOB and SBB say they have decided to place the order before the Federal Office of Transport renews SBB’s long-distance concession to ensure the trains are available for service by the end of 2020.

SOB and SBB are also planning a similar arrangement for the operation of Bern - Olten - Zürich - Chur services, which SOB is likely to take over in December 2021. New rolling stock will also be ordered for this route.