Italy unveiled its first private high-speed train, dubbed as the most modern train in Europe. The legendaryFerrari chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, is one amongst the shareholders of the first private operators of high speed trains operated by NTV (Nuovo Transporto Viaggiatori) along with his friend, Diego Della Valle, who owns a luxury goods company, Tods. French trains operator SNCF also owns up to 20 per cent of the company.
The company was founded in 2006 when the European Union initiated rail transport market reforms to encourage competition. Since then, NTV has invested around 1 billion euros in Italian train travel, promising fast journeys and deluxe services under its ‘Italo’ brand set to be launched by March 2012.
NTVL promises to make their pricing systems affordable for crisis-hit Italians by setting fares at rock bottom prices in case of early booking and off-season times. Offering three different travel classes, the train’s stylish interiors are designed by Italdesign Giugiaro, and offers facilities like tunnel-proof Wi-Fi, TV, cinema, gourmet meals and extensive hospitality services served by trained staff.
The comforts extend beyond on-board. Every station on the Ferrari train route will have an ‘Italo lounge’ with an exclusive ticket office and waiting area.
Lucia Casarin, a 44-year-old graphic designer from Venice, said she looks forward to a service that promises to comfort her frequent train trips.
“You have to keep in mind that Italo will compete against a rather disappointing train service here in Italy,” she said. “But the ticket prices, given the dire economic situation we are in, will be the real challenge for Italo.”
Success of NTV’s high speed service will give it a chance to compete on regional routes with state-owned Trenitalia which faces criticism from costumer associations for ‘obstructionism’ and bad service.
“We are in a tough economic environment, with the risk of a recession that could hit demand for transport. We will carefully monitor demand levels, but if they stay normal these are the numbers, NTV Chief Executive Giuseppe Sciarrone said while speaking to Reuters on phone.
“Prices will vary depending on the time of the day and the day of the week, as well as the season, but everyone will be able to afford to travel with us,” Sciarrone insisted.
The use of AGV high speed trains built by French transport and power engineering group Alstom would be first to run up to 50 services a day by NTV. Twenty five trains will be linking Turin in north with Salerno in southern Italy, via Milan, Rome and Naples, as well as Venice with Rome, at a speed of 300 kilometres per hour.
(Written by Manasa Kesiraju; Edited by Moign Khawaja)