Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Trains versus planes in Italy

Everybody knows Europe is way ahead, but I like to post an occasional item to demonstrate the stark difference. This is easily understood evidence that American transportation policy is conducted more for the benefit of well funded special interests than the traveling public.

Here is a small part of what The Economist has to say.

On November 3rd easyJet, one of Europe’s leading low-cost operators, began operating four flights a day from Fiumicino, Rome’s main airport, to Malpensa, Milan’s second airport. But an even greater danger to a reborn Alitalia may be that posed by trains. Allowing for journeys to and from the airports and the time needed for check-in, security and boarding, a trip from central Rome to central Milan by plane takes well over three hours. The quickest train takes just over four hours. But on December 15th a 182km (114 mile) section of new track will open between Bologna and Milan, cutting the journey time by about half an hour. And at the end of next year 79km of high-speed track between Florence and Bologna should enter service, reducing the one-hour travel time between the two cities by almost half.

Moreover the threat does not just come from Trenitalia, the state-owned rail operator. Last month Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV), a private-sector operator headed by Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s boss, revealed plans to operate high-speed trains between cities including Rome, Milan, Turin and Venice, starting in 2011, with 13 trains a day between Rome and Milan.

Mr di Montezemolo is sure he and his fellow investors are on to a winner. “Italy is a country made for high-speed trains. There is nothing to be gained from investing in airlines,” he says. Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s biggest bank, which owns 20% of NTV, agrees with him—up to a point. It is hedging its bet with a large stake in the firm resurrecting Alitalia.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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November 2008


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