After years of delay, the double-decker train named ‘FV-Dosto’ completed its first rail journey on Monday. The fate of the rest of the 62-train fleet still pends on a court decision following a legal challenge by disabled groups.
“There was no delay, everything ran smoothly”, Swiss Federal Railways spokesperson Christian Ginsig told the Swiss News Agency, after the first of the new trains travelled from Zurich to Bern and back, a route on which the ‘FV-Dosto’ will carry passengers from Monday onwards.
The new fleet, produced by Bombardier, was originally ordered in 2010. The long wait was caused by delivery problems, software issues and by a recent lawsuit of a Swiss disability group. The association Inclusion Handicapexternal link filed a legal complaint in January claiming that access to the new trains was not autonomous for wheel-chair users.
Ten days ago, the Federal Administrative Court ruled that for the time being, six of the new trains would be allowed to go into service. Inclusion Handicap agreed with this decision but maintained that unaccompanied travellers with a disability would encounter too many problems when using the new trains, and that they therefore do not meet the requirements of the law which grants equal opportunities for the disabled on public transport.
With the interim injunction, the court has not yet ruled if those trains currently still in production will receive the green light to run. In theory, the Swiss Federal Railways is not allowed to use them on its rail network until a legally binding decision on the matter has been reached.
The Bombardier fleet order was the most expensive in the history of the Swiss Federal Railways. The 62 trains cost CHF1.9 billion ($2.4 billion). The Swiss Federal Railways said that it plans to invest CHF1 billion ($1.6 billion) annually into modernising its trains in the future.