Take a look at these asymmetrical Swiss trains designed by Pininfarina

Swiss manufacturer Stadler teamed up with Italian design house Pininfarina to style a truly European classic - get these on your bucket list
Pininfarina-designed Polaris train

Ok, so we’re a little late to the party in discovering these rather special trains, given that they actually entered service in 2023. But the world needs more asymmetry, and we are absolutely here for it.

The Gornergrat Railway is a winding, scenic mountain railway nestled amongst the Swiss Alps in the canton of Valais. The second highest railway in Europe, it links the resort of Zermatt with the summit of the Gornergrat, with spectacular views over to the Matterhorn on a clear day.

Trains run every 35 mins, with a mixture of two-carriage cogwheel units and double sets providing the capacity to move up to 2,500 people per hour.

Such a stunning, unique railway deserves a truly exquisite train to run on it, and that’s exactly what operator BVZ Group set out to procure when it handed the brief for the interior and exterior design of its new trains to renowned Italian studio, Pininfarina.

Pininfarina are celebrated globally for their work with fellow Italian companies Ferrari, Fiat and Alfa Romeo (amongst many, many others), producing elegant works such as surely one of the most beautiful cars ever designed, the Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Pinin Farina.

And there are a whole host of other sublime classics in the Pininfarina portfolio, including the iconic Ferrari F40, the Alfa Romeo Spider, the Maserati GranTurismo and – not quite as exotic, but still timeless – the humble Peugeot 205.

Since the late 1980s, Pininfarina have branched out into design for bus and rail manufacturers, producing such works as the Habit for Spanish bus builder Hispano, and the ill-fated, but nonetheless radical and outlandish Fyra v250 for Italian train manufacturer AnsaldoBreda.

Ferrari 250 GT Cabrio designed and bodied by Pininfarina

The studio’s designers worked with Swiss rolling stock manufacturer, Stadler, to design the POLARIS trains for the Gornergrat Railway.

The resulting design is a future classic.

It features a space-age, asymmetric cab front. A hidden, off-centre cab door sits alongside a dramatic, glossy, solid black curve which wraps around the bodysides, masking the huge windows contained within. A rakish silver band provides relief between the black and the signature burnt orange of the livery, whilst the wheels, undercarriage and dramatically-protruding fairing over the coupling equipment complete the look in light grey.

On board, there are multi-purpose areas designed to hold sports equipment, with WiFi and power sockets throughout. Gargantuan windows in the low floor area by the doors complement the smaller, but still sizeable windows along the carriages, making sure those stunning vistas over the Alps can be seen clearly by everyone on board.

Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler teamed up with Italian design house Pininfarina to create a truly European icon

Stadler are the self-proclaimed global leader in the ‘rack railways’ niche, with several deployments of the technology in Switzerland alone. Trains on these railways feature cogwheels on board which lock into a third rail positioned between the two outer rails, which helps them to climb the steep gradients of their mountainous terrain.

The punishing uphill climbs are counteracted by downhill coasts, where the POLARIS trains use regenerative braking to harness the momentum from their downhill journeys. The trains are powered through their overhead wires, which feed them 100% renewable hydropower from the nearby Zermatt electricity works.

Next stop…

Will you be taking a trip to the Gornergrat Railway? We’d love to know how you found these trains, and anywhere else in the world you might find similarly striking designs.

Drop a note in the comments below!


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