Cars aren’t the only vehicles designed by Pininfarina

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The Goldenpass Express will begin service in Swiss tourist areas in December 2020 | Pininfarina illustration

At Pebble Beach recently, Pininfarina displayed an updated Battista electric supercar and provided a sneak peek at another automotive project. But cars aren’t the only things the Italian styling house designs.

In early September, it joined the MOB — Montreux Oberland Bernese Swiss railway — to share The Goldenpass Express, a tourist train scheduled to go into service in mid-December 2020.

The train is designed not only to provide enhanced and panoramic views of the Vaud and Bernese Alps in one of Switzerland’s main tourist destinations, but sits on “a revolutionary variable gauge bogie” that will let passengers remain aboard rather than having to change trains when the track switches in just seconds from narrow to standard gauge at the Zweisimmen station.

The MOB anticipates as many as 1.5 million passengers a year will ride The Goldenpass Express.

“With the Goldenpass Express we are facing a spectacular technological challenge, shifting from narrow gauge to standard gauge,” Georges Oberson, MOB general manager, is quoted in the announcement. “We also wanted this tourist train to be beautiful and elegant. That’s why we assigned the task to Pininfarina.

Not only did Pininfarina face the challenge of providing a panoramic vantage for passengers, but also the technical challenges of new Swiss railway safety rules and the MOB’s desire for a chassis that can switch to various gauges.

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Pininfarina has been designing railway vehicles since it did the ETR 500 high-speed trains for Italy and Spain in the mid-1980s. It also has done trains for several European countries, including the Eurostar e320, which carries more than 900 people at a speed of 320 km/h (more than 198 mph).

In 1993, it did the Cristal Panoramic Express for the MOB.

Despite the new safety rules, Pininfarina was able to incorporate a large front-viewing window for The Goldenpass Express. The window is designed to eliminate reflection or reverberation that might spoil photographs taken through it.

““Having to deal with new safety standards has been a stimulus to our creativity, rather than a limitation,” said Pininfarina design project manager Alfredo Palma. “In every project, whether it is automotive,

transportation or architecture, our goal is to create beautiful objects while overcoming technical or regulatory obstacles.

“With the MOB we have created a train that offers an immersive travel experience, in total symbiosis with the beauty of the surrounding nature.”

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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