Saturday, March 28, 2009

Berlusconi inaugurates Frecciarossa - High- speed train links Milan to Rome in three hours

High- speed train links Milan to Rome in three hours

(ANSA) - Rome, March 24 - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was aboard on Tuesday for the inaugural run of the high-speed Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) train which travels from Milan to Rome in three hours.

Riding for some of the trip in the locomotive, Berlusconi said that the last time he remembered being on a train was when he was a boy and left Milan with his parents on a local train to pick flowers at Lake Como.

The engineer even let Berlusconi sit in the driver's seat and the premier quipped how with everything computerised ''driving a train is a lot easier than governing the country''.

''This can be defined as an historic moment,'' Berlusconi observed, ''because it marks the beginning of the third era of rail travel in Italy; the first being the start of service on the Portici-Naples line in 1835 and the second the arrival of the Pendolino'' tilting express train in the 1960s.

The new high-speed (AV) train can travel at speeds of up to 360kph and the inaugural run on Tuesday was made possible by the completion of the mountain tract between Florence and Bologna, which reduced travelling time from one hour to 35 minutes from station to station.

''This difficult tract was completed in a relatively short period of time and involved boring a tunnel for 73 of the 79km between Bologna and Florence,'' the premier observed.

''Being able to travel from Milan to Rome in three hours is a way of making Italy even more united and is sure to give Alitalia some competition,'' Berlusconi added.

The now-private Italian airline flies between Rome and Milan in about an hour but their airports are significantly outside the city center and baggage claim can also add to the travel time. The Frecciarossa will not be in service between Milan and Rome until mid-December when the AV train will run from Turin to Salerno.

In order to compete with air travel, the FS Italian railways said that starting in December AV trains linking Rome and Milan will leave every 15 minutes for a total of 51 daily connections of which 19 will be non-stop.

FS said it will also introduce a more flexible pricing system to encourage the use of the AV trains by reducing rates depending on the time of year, departure times and day of the week.

Also riding with Berlusconi on the Frecciarossa's inaugural run were Cabinet Secretary Gianni Letta; Public Works Minister Altero Matteoli; the chairman of parliament's public works committee, Luigi Grillo; Lombardy Region President Roberto Formigoni, Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti; FS CEO Mauro Moretti; and Chairman Innocenzo Cipolletta.

The Frecciarossa was met on its arrival in the capital by Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno and Lazio Region President Pietro Marrazzo.

For video of how to buy a TrenItalia train ticket in Italy click How to Buy a TrenItalia Ticket.

For the Frecciarossa Italy train schedule click Italy High Speed Train Schedule.

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