I really don't like tilting trains, because I always feel slightly sick in there. With normal trains I don't have any problems at all. Unfortunately, there are a lot of tilting trains on the route from Zürich to Lugano. Therefore I have two questions:

Is there a way to tell in advance if it will be a tilting train?

Is there any other rail-based option to get from Zürich to Lugano avoiding tilting trains at all?

  • 1
    A practical alternative, at least in the winter, is to travel when it's dark outside. You shouldn't feel anything in that case.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 30, 2014 at 17:11

4 Answers 4


At least a partial answer:

Raileurope and Wiki has told me that EC (EuroCity, formerly called Cisalpino, not all EC, just the former Cisalpino) and so called ICN (Intercity-Neigezug, German for Intercity Tilting Train) trains are tilt-enabled.

Using the Deutche Bahn Travel Service one can exclude EC and IC (InterCity) trains from the search by using the "Advanced selection of means of transport". Uncheck the EC/IC check box and search away, it should result in transportation without any tilting trains.

It should be noted that unchecking the IC check box should only be used on this route because there only ICN trains. Doing the same for Sweden would result in removing the non-tilting IC trains but not the tilting X2000 trains. But there is a way to solve this too.

When searching with All kinds of means of transportation you will see a "Products" column, it says IC, EC, IR, TGV or ICE depending on where you are searching. The EC trains on this route are easy to dismiss, but as mentioned above the InterCity trains cannot be dismissed as easily. But if you open the details for the IC trip in question it will say "Intercity Neigezug" (ICN) in the description if the train is a tilting InterCity train.

This method of course requires one to know if a certain train type is tilt or not. But it isn't that easy, because there are EC trains that don't tilt. And the ones that do don't have a special name like the ICN does. I have no good solution for this apart from doing a lot of research to find what kind of trains operate in a certain area.

Wiki has a list of trains with this feature, but I am not sure if it is up to date.

EDIT: To clarify, the IC trains in Europe are not tilt trains. Only the ICN trains. Some EC trains, such as on the route in question do tilt, but there are many EC trains in Europe that do not tilt.

Maybe the train company selling the tickets can also answer this question. It might be better to call the international ticket office, in my experience they have helpful travel and train fanatics that answer the phones. I've used this service with DB and SJ, if they didn't have an answer for my question they have been able to find out and contact me later.

Thanks to @Vince for pointing out that my answer could be misinterpreted.

  • This is a bit confusing. Are EC tilted or not? or according to your source, EC travelling between Switzerland and Northern Italy only?
    – Vince
    Oct 10, 2012 at 12:50
  • @Vince this indeed confusing. In my answer I did write "This method of course requires one to know if a certain train type is tilt or not. But it isn't that easy, because there are EC trains that don't tilt." Some does, and some don't. According to the info I got you can dismiss the EC trains on the route in question because they are tilt. I then also said that I have no solution apart from researching what kind of EC trains service a particular region.
    – Alendri
    Oct 10, 2012 at 13:29
  • Maybe you can make it clearer by starting your answer with something like : so far I found that EuroCity trains between Northern Italy and Switzerland, and trains called ICN are tilted trains. If someone finds some more, he'll add it to your answer. Seems clearer and shorter to me. And by the way, a lot of European trains are called EC, so these EC between Italy and Switzerland are very few among all.
    – Vince
    Oct 10, 2012 at 13:34
  • Some ICE are also tilting (but not those that go to Switzerland at the moment, AFAIK).
    – Relaxed
    Mar 30, 2014 at 17:08

Late to answer but notheworthy:

During the December 2017 timetable change of Swiss railways, decision was taken to phase out the ICN designation of tilting trains (this was related to a specific rolling stock) and replace that by regular IC naming. This was done as a global move to simplify the network perception, as long-distance (IC and IR) routes now have numbers, a bit like local lines in S-bahn/RER areas.

Lines usually operated with tilting stock are so because of the slightly reduced travel time on twisty routes. One big principle of Swiss trains scheduling is to allow timed transfers at major hubs.

Now, the lines operated using tilting trains are:

  • IC 5 Lausanne to St. Gallen (sometimes Geneva Airport to St. Gallen) : always using ICN stock, except for the occasional Lausanne-Neuchâtel extra service operated with regular cars. Take the route through Fribourg and Bern instead, operated as IC 1. Between Olten and St. Gallen, both routes are the same. IC 1 is operated using regular double-decker stock. Reaching the Jura foot route stations between Lausanne and Olten is quite impossible without a tilting train, unless you make your way using local services radiating from Bern, Fribourg and other reachable cities from the IC 1 route.
  • IC 2 Zurich HB to Lugano : mostly using ICN stock if not always. Stretch between Zug and Arth-Goldau is a twisty single track on a lake shore, the perfect terrain where tilting stock has an advantage. To avoid, you could make a detour through Lucerne and/or take the shorter route to Ertsfeld then change into the slower train that takes the historic Gotthard route. And it is very scenic although it takes longer. The newest Gotthard base tunnel, longest in the world, cuts 1 hour compared to the historic route.
  • IC 21 Basel SBB to Lugano : same remarks
  • EC Geneva - Milano Centrale: operated using ETR610 stock. Very comfortable, less aggressive tilts, those are the newest tilting trains available unless you get an Trenitalia-branded train which is a bit older. The SBB-branded ones are newer. This is difficult to predict.
  • EC Basel - Milano Centrale or Zürich HB - Milano Centrale : operated using ETR610
  • EC Frankfurt - Milano Centrale : operated using ETR610

First note that tilting trains are used in specific areas of Europe; some countries have none and some have a lot. On Wikipedia you can find references to it. Apparently you know this but not everyone does, and it could be useful to know in advance where you might find them.

When searching the CFF website, I found that they give information about your train. From Zurich to Lugano, you can have an IC-tilting train, an InterRegio or maybe other trains (for my request it says you need to take a tilting train for at least part of the ride).

  • Thanks for the information, but that is not really answering my question. Oct 10, 2012 at 8:46
  • The "tilting" feature of trains is not specific to Italian-made trains. (And even if it was, their use is not limited to Italy or Italian part of Switzerland; Pendolinos are used in Finland, for example.)
    – Jonik
    Oct 10, 2012 at 8:55
  • ah ok, I thought that for "Is there a way to tell in advance if it will be a tilting train?" saying that it's operated probably only in the South of Switzerland would help. I don't remember (or didn't notice) any tilting trains from Geneva to Basel or St-Gallen, so I guess that's the main way you can tell.
    – Vince
    Oct 10, 2012 at 8:59
  • I already know that they are frequent on the route to the Italian part of Switzerland. However, not every time I travel there a tilting train is used. I want to know if it is possible to predict when it is used. Oct 10, 2012 at 9:01

FWIW, an update to the answers…

In Switzerland, domestic tilting trains are marked ICN (as it has been said). Tilting train sets may occasionally appear in non-ICN-marked services (a good example is the service between Basel SBB and Zürich Airport which do not serve Zürich HB).

Tilting trains are also used on some (most) EC connections between Switzerland (Genève/Basel/Bern/Zürich) and Italy (Milano).

There are no tilting trains between Switzerland and Germany, France, and Austria.

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