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Bombardier’s ZEFIRO Wins German Design Award

Bombardier Transportation has won the Brandenburg Design Award for the design – interior and exterior – of its ZEFIRO Express intercity train.

Bombardier ZEFIRO Express intercity train wins German design award
ZEFIRO Express intercity train wins German design award © Bombardier Transportation

Bombardier says:

“The train’s distinctive appearance is set to reshape mobility and redefine the intercity passenger experience in the Swedish region of Västra Götaland, where Swedish rail operator Västtrafik will run these trains.”

The ZEFIRO design features a clear Scandinavian aesthetic, which combines function with modern elegance. All of this is emphasised by a a subtle colour scheme.

Helene Frahm, Design Lead at Västtrafik, said:

“We are happy to learn that the ZEFIRO Express has won the Brandenburg Design Award for Industrial Design. The development process was closely coordinated between us and the Bombardier design team and the train’s mock-up is both attractive and unique. We look forward to seeing them in operation and meeting our customer’s needs.”

Nicole Michel, Team Leader, Industrial Design, Bombardier Transportation, said:

“We enjoyed the very effective and creative, hands-on cooperation with Västtrafik. The train will not only look great, it will also offer a reliable and relaxing journey to passengers across the Västra Götaland region.”

ZEFIRO Express Contract

Bombardier won the contract for 40 high-speed ZEFIRO Express trains in April 2018. The trains will enter commercial service starting in 2021. The project is currently in the phase of developing the details. Assembly will begin towards the end of 2019.

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The three-car multiple units have the following mandate: high capacity, high levels of passenger comfort, and low operating costs.

Combining Form and Function

The design challenge was combining form and function. Bombardier wanted the train to be attractive, while ensuring it would function efficiently, especially in Sweden’s winter climate.


The ZEFIRO can operate in temperatures as low as -40 degrees. One design element that acknowledges the winter conditions the ZEFIRO will be exposed to is the headlights. They are situated as high as possible, meeting the TSI standards.

The large front-mounted snow plough will allow the train to perform effectively and safety even in deep snow. Its colour will demonstrate its function and safety to passengers. Bombardier also had to consider the potential danger of collisions with elks in the design. Consequently the front of the train had to be particularly robust in nature, without losing any of its elegance or aerodynamic properties.

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Bombardier designed the interior to be spacious and inviting. It also wanted the lighting concept to give passengers a serene ambience. The interior of the ZEFIRO Express is 3 metres wide. Coupled with the choice of materials – wood, stainless steel and ecological textiles – this creates a modern atmosphere that passengers will enjoy spending time in.

Bombardier developed the design in close co-operation with the customer and tested it on various focus groups, such as the visually impaired, wheelchair users, and train drivers and conductors.

Winning Bid

Bombardier’s ZEFIRO Express won the award because it struck a successful balance between fulfilling the functional and aesthetic needs of passengers and staff.

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The design focuses on reliability, energy efficiency and optimised life-cycle costs, while at the same time being inviting.

The German Ministry of Economics and Energy of Brandenburg established the Brandenburg Design Award in 2011. It recognises cultural and creative industry achievements in design.

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