The TEE Cisalpin was a Trans-Europ-Express train that linked Paris-Gare de Lyon in Paris, France, with Milano Centrale in Milan, Italy (between 1974 and 1979, it was extended to Venice during summers). Introduced in 1961, it was operated by the SNCF, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FFS) and the Italian State Railways (FS).
Between 1961 and 1974, the Cisalpin was operated by electric multiple unit trainsets of type RAe TEE II. These quad-voltage trains were a remarkable innovation. On the Paris – Milano route, they ran first under 1.5KV DC between Paris and Dôle, next under 25 KV-50Hz to Vallorbe (Swiss border station), then under 15 KV 16 2/3Hz in Switzerland until Domodossola on the south side of the Simplon, and finally under 3KV DC in Italy.
With the start of the summer 1974 schedule, on 26 May 1974, the train became electric locomotive-hauled with stainless-steel “Mistral-69” passenger cars. The electric engines in charge were the magnificent CC 21000 and the BB 22200. It was a progress for comfort and capacity, but it was a regression from the railroad perspective, because it required 2 engine changes at each border.
The locomotive-hauled version lasted 10 years. In January 1984, with the introduction of TGVs between Paris and Lausanne, the Cisalpin lost its TEE status, and operated as two separate trains (TGV and IC) with time connections in Lausanne with a Geneve – Milano Intercity.
The picture shows the RAe TEE II waiting departure in Paris Lyon station 4 days before these EMUs disappeared from this route, at the end of the first era.
The crack passenger trains in Europe before the high speed era (1956-1980's). They were day 1st class only trains, and seat reservation was compulsory, quite a distinctive feature at a time when one could board most trains without a reserved seat or bed.