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Stadler Rail's headquarters in Bussnang, Switzerland.

(Dietrich Michael Weidmann, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Stadler Rail is a Swiss manufacturer of railway rolling stock, with an original emphasis on regional train multiple units and trams, but moving also into underground, high speed, intercity and sleeper trains. It is also producing niche products, such as being one of the last European manufacturers of rack railway rolling stock. Stadler Rail is headquartered at its place of origin in Bussnang, Switzerland. Stadler Rail employed 13,400 employees by 2022.

The company consolidates fifty subsidiaries in 23 countries including Algeria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belarus and the United States, and upcoming joint ventures with INKA in Indonesia and Medha Servo Drives in India. Stadler Rail employed approximately 6,100 employees by 2012, including 2,750 in Switzerland, 1,200 in Germany, 1,000 in Belarus, 400 in Hungary and 400 in Poland. By 2022, this had increased to 13,400 employees.


Stadler US in Salt Lake City.

(Braddah n8, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Stadler Rail traces its origins back to an engineering office established by Ernst Stadler (1908–1981) in 1942. Three years later, the company began to manufacture its first locomotives, building both battery-electric and diesel types. Throughout the majority of Stadler Rail's existence, it operated as a relatively small family-owned business entirely based in Switzerland that traditionally focused on manufacturing highly customized rail vehicles for its clients. The customer base were typically within relatively niche markets, such as narrow gauge and mountain railway operators, rather than those operating conventional mainline railways. After Ernst Stadler died in 1981, his second wife, Irma (c. 1923–2020), took over as CEO. Stadler Rail remained a relatively small rolling stock manufacturer even through to the 1990s; by the mid-1990s, Stadler reportedly had only 100 employees.

Around 1984, Stadler Rail decided to embark on the manufacture of passenger rolling stock for the first time. In 1987, Peter Spuhler, an in-law relative of the Stadler family through his marriage to one of Ernst Stadler's granddaughters, joined the company and subsequently took over as CEO from Irma Stadler in 1989. Spuhler then decided to expand the business via the launch of new products, as well as the acquisition of two other Swiss factories that built specialist rail vehicles for rack-and-pinion and narrow gauge railways. Stadler Rail experienced a considerable uptick in business during the latter years of 1990s. Its customer base continued to expand year after year over the following two decades to become one of the fastest growing and most innovative train manufacturing companies operating in Europe. Stadler Rail has become a serious competitor in several categories to traditional major rolling stock companies, such as Alstom and Siemens, and has successfully secured several major orders from the incumbent train operating companies of several nations.


CBC VT 512 in St. Egidien, Stadler Regio-Shuttle RS1, German railbus in 2006.

(Ralf Aroksalasch, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


In 1999, Stadler Rail took a 67% shareholding in a joint venture with Adtranz to manufacture the Regio-Shuttle RS1. However, following Adtranz's acquisition by Bombardier in 2001, European Union regulators insisted on the divestiture of the regional and tram product lines. As a consequence, Stadler Rail took 100% ownership of the Pankow factory in Berlin, becoming its first manufacturing base in Germany, that same year. Production of the RS1 has continued, becoming the market leading tram in the nation.

Perhaps the company's most successful product has been the FLIRT (Fast Light Innovative Regional Train) family, the range includes highly diverse configurations to suit different needs, from smaller regional units to luxurious intercity trainsets, as well as broad gauge versions for Finland and former Soviet Union nations. During 2004, Stadler Rail delivered the first trainset to the Swiss Federal Railways. By 2019, in excess of 1,400 FLIRTs have been ordered by operators in 16 countries spread across Europe, the United States, Algeria and Azerbaijan.

To facilitate an expanded order book and wider customer base, the company has rapidly expanded its production capabilities. To serve the Central and Eastern European market alone, during 2005, a new assembly plant was built in Hungary, while another was completed in Poland in the following year; six years later, a third manufacturing site was established in Belarus. By late 2019, the firm reportedly employed in excess of 7,000 employees at various locations spread across 20 countries. Each year, hundreds of rail vehicles, including trams, locomotives and coaches, are completed by the firm. In addition to its manufacturing efforts, considerable business is derived from contracted maintenance and refurbishment programs, which Stadler Rail provides to operators throughout Europe, the United States, the Middle East and the North African regions.

The company has also grown via numerous acquisitions, including the Swiss company Winpro AG based in Winterthur in 2005, Voith Rail Services of the Netherlands in 2013, and Vossloh Rail Vehicles España S.A. of Valencia during 2015. They have been integrated into the wider Stadler Rail organisation, broadening the range of products and services on offer.

For many years, Peter Spuhler has served as the company's chief executive officer (CEO), as well as holding a major stake in the business. According to Peter Jenelten, Stadler Rail's Executive Vice-President for Marketing and Sales, has credited the business' relatively lean structure as having enabled very rapid decision-making and reducing product's time to market, which in turn has been an important selling point for its customers. Railway industry periodical Rail Magazine has claimed that Stadler Rail has been a major beneficiary of customer dissatisfaction with the dominant market competitors, particularly in terms of delivery and certification issues.

In 2014, Stadler Rail announced the formation of a joint venture with Azerbaijan-based company International Railway Distribution LLC to manufacture rolling stock in the nation. One month prior, Stadler had received a SFr120 million contract to produce 30 sleeper and dining cars. Rolling stock originally intended for Russia has also been resold to Azerbaijan and neighboring Georgia.


British Rail Class 745. Greater Anglia's 745010 'FLIRT' arrives into Colchester working a Liverpool Street - Norwich service.

(SavageKieran, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Stadler Rail had traditionally avoided major involvement with the British railway customer base, which it has claimed was due to the unfavorable complexity of the regulatory environment. However, in 2017, management decided to embark on a decisive push into Britain, both to acquire market share amongst its rail operators and to establish new manufacturing and servicing facilities. It quickly secured a £610 million order from Abellio Greater Anglia for its FLIRT family, leading to 378 vehicles conforming to the UK's restrictive loading gauge that were built in Bussnang. Further orders in the UK market have included Glasgow Subway's order for 17 underground trains, operating via an automated driverless system, it is a first for Stadler. Another major order came from Merseytravel for bespoke electric trains for Liverpool's Merseyrail commuter rail system.

In April 2019, Stadler Rail was listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange, reducing Spuhler's stake in the company to 40%. Prior to the listing, Spuhler had owned 80% of the business's share capital, while RAG-Stiftung (DE) held a further 10%, and the remaining 10% was divided amongst several senior employees at the firm.

In recent years, the light rail and metro sectors have become increasingly important customers. Various operators in Germany, Norway, and Britain have adopted the company's Variobahn trams, while Stadler Rail received its first contract for underground trains during 2015. In December 2015, the firm’s had a huge order via a joint venture with Siemens Mobility for up to 1,380 vehicles for Berlin's S-Bahn, the last of which are to be delivered by 2023. During 2019, Stadler Rail was reportedly making efforts to capitalize on smaller operators, driven by trends towards regionalization and open-access operation, to secure business for its railcars, light rail vehicles and multiple units.

Stadler has a large manufacturing facility in Fanipaĺ, Belarus. Following the disputed 2020 Belarusian presidential elections and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the company came under pressure to reduce its exposure in those countries. By June 2022, electronic parts used to assemble rail equipment are no longer deliverable to Fanipaĺ due to international sanctions against Belarus following the forced diversion of Ryanair Flight 4978. In response, Stadler moved equipment and personnel to Poland, Switzerland and the US to make up for that loss. The board of directors decided to keep the site and stressed that the company has to follow supranational decisions by international organizations such as the OECD, UN and EU but their commitment is towards the people working at the site, stating that Stadler "serves the public not dictators". The subsidiaries OOO Stadler (Moskau) and Stadler Reinickendorf (Berlin) were liquidated in 2022.



Company type: Public
Traded as SIX: SRAIL
Industry: Train manufacturing
Founded: 1942
Founder: Ernst Stadler
Headquarters: Bussnang, Switzerland
Key people: Markus Bernsteiner (CEO); Peter Spuhler (Executive Chairman)
Revenue: SFr 3.8 billion (2022)
Owners: PCS Holding AG (30.5%); Peter Spuhler (11%); RAG-Stiftung (4.5%)
Number of employees: 13,431 (2022)


See Also:

Stadler FLIRT

Stadler GTW