As chairman of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo is used to making things that move at breakneck speed. But rather than flashy sports cars for wealthy motor enthusiasts, the Italian businessman’s latest high-velocity project aims to cater for the traveling masses. The Italo train from NTV – a passenger rail company of which di Montezemolo is also chairman — is a high-speed service that has been dashing between Milan, Rome and other major Italian cities since April.
With its dark red color scheme, streamlined shape and speeds as fast as a formula-one car, everyone’s calling Italo the “Ferrari train.” A cinema carriage, free Wi-Fi access throughout the train, and luxury leather seats all add to the high-performance, luxury theme. But Italo is intended to be affordable and accessible to all consumers.
Both Italo and state-run rival Trenitalia currently have promotional offers, but Trenitalia’s flexible standard tickets from Rome to Milan start from $107 and go up to $200, whereas flexible standard tickets from Rome to Milan on Italo range from $110 to $163.
While Italy has had high-speed trains since the late 1970s, NTV is the country’s first rail operator not run by the state. Montezemolo and his consortium of partners, including French state rail company SNCF, have invested €1 billion ($1.2 billion) in NTV, breaking Trenitalia’s monopoly. But Trenitalia was ready for Italo’s arrival. It has spent $100 million upgrading the interiors of its Frecciarossa trains and introduced free Wi-Fi. It welcomes a new high-speed player and is prepared to fight for every customer.
Cameron Jones, vice president of rail industry technology specialists SilverRail, agrees that competition in the sector can benefit the consumer. The expansion of other rail operators across Europe is having a similar effect, says Jones. Italo hopes to have 25% of Italy’s market by 2014, and di Montezemolo doesn’t rule out expanding beyond the country’s borders.
So, do you want to experience riding a ‘Ferrari on rails’? Do you like the concept of the Italo high-speed train?
Source: CNN Travel