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Private company set to launch in 2011
Italy's first privately-owned high speed rail company plans to launch a new service, in direct competition with the state-owned Eurostar Italia Alta Velocitá.
Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV) will operate the new Italo service on key intercity routes from 2011, with plans for future European routes in the pipeline.
The three routes currently planned for 2011 are: Turin-Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples-Salerno; Rome-Florence-Bologna-Venice; and Rome-Bari.
There will also be a non-stop Milan-Rome service which will take three hours, departing three times a day in both directions.
Luca di Montezemolo, NTV's chairman, said a partnership with French rail company SNCF, the first European railway operator to launch high speed rail services, had opened up the potential for Italo to expand into Europe.
"The agreement gives NTV the opportunity to become a major player in the European market, which will be completely liberalised for international (passenger) services from January 2010," said Mr Montezemolo. "Nevertheless, NTV will remain essentially Italian."
NTV will also be the first rail company to operate the new generation of high speed train, the AGV (Automatrice Grande Vitesse), designed to travel at speeds of up to 360 kmph.
It has ordered a fleet of 25 of the new trains from French manufacturer Alstom.
The new trains, with interiors designed by Italdesign-Guigiaro, will provide passengers with 20% more space.
There will also be a 15% reduction in energy comsumption, when compared to current high velocity trains in operation, said Mr Montezemolo.
The Italo trains will have 11 cars with a total capacity of 460 seats and will travel on the Italian rail network at 300kmph. By 2015 Italo hopes to be serving 30,000 a day.
Eurostar Italia has no connection to the Eurostar service which runs between London and Paris and Brussels.
Eurostar Italia currently operates its Freccia Rossa ("Red Arrow") high speed services between several Italian cities, including Turin-Milan, Milan-Bologna, Florence-Rome and Rome-Naples. Between Milan and Rome the journey on Freccia Rossa currently takes 3 hours 30 minutes.