INTRO: Italian State Railways is implementing a four-year business plan aimed at driving the business into the black. With many projects already under way, the 70000bn lire plan means that 150000bn lire will have been invested in 1994-2006

THIS MONTH sees Italian State Railways take one more step towards a commercial future. Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli confirmed in November that FS would introduce market pricing on main line trains from January. Subject to approval by an interministerial committee, travel on high speed and inter-city services and other principal trains is to be priced according to speed, frequency and quality of service, and in many cases supplements will be incorporated into the new fares structure. Fares for travel on regional and commuter services will for now still be calculated on a distance basis.

Market pricing is just one of many changes that Cimoli’s management team plans to implement as it strives to nudge FS into the black. Another factor driving Cimoli’s strategy is the need to raise productivity to ensure that FS can compete with other operators under European open access legislation.

The 1997-2000 business plan for FS approved by the government last year aims to lift revenue by 1900bn lire in the final year. Nearly one-third is to be generated by higher levels of traffic, 16% from improvements to the range of services and 53% from the fares reform and better service quality. Expansion of the Eurostar network, which is expected to carry 24million passengers a year by 2000, will see current Intercity rolling stock cascaded to other routes. FS expects its wage bill to have fallen by 2720bn lire by 2000, with other operating costs remaining at 1996 levels, or falling in real terms.

FS core activities are currently organised as five Strategic Business Areas: Network; Traction (including rolling stock acquisition and maintenance); Passenger (long and medium-distance); Transport (regional and urban); and Integrated Logistics (freight). By 2000 FS hopes that the Integrated Logistics and Passenger areas will have become free-standing businesses with their own rolling stock and staff, no longer in receipt of subsidy.

Under Law 59/97 (the Bassani Law), regions will become responsible for specifying and funding local transport, with current FS contracts transferred by central government from June 1 1999. Local services will be put out to competitive tender, and by January 1 2000 the ratio between receipts and costs net of infrastructure charges must be at least 0.35. FS expects these changes will cut public support for rail operations from the 1996 level by 1700bn lire.

Investment in labour-saving technology will permit economies to be made, and up to 1800bn will be raised through the sale of surplus property and assets, as well as holdings no longer deemed essential to core activities.

By July 31 FS is required to present a plan for the separation of its infrastructure activities by the end of 1999, in line with EU policy. The state will continue to fund the management, upkeep and development of rail infrastructure.

Investment programmes

Crucial to these organisational changes is an investment programme requiring 7000bn lire a year in public funds over the next 10 years. With projects already in hand under the 1994-2000 contract plan, this means that 150000bn lire will have been invested by 2006.

Investment to be funded by the public purse is broadly divided between the Alta Velocità programme (19%), capacity enhancements on the conventional network including a wide-ranging programme of quadrupling (25%), safety (9%), modernisation (6%) and maintenance (37%). Public funding for the Torino - Milano - Napoli, Milano - Venezia and Milano - Genova AV programme represents 40% of the 40000bn lire required, with the other 60% raised from the financial markets.

Around 600bn lire of special funding has been allocated by the transport ministry for rail investment in the south of Italy. This will include infrastructure improvements to raise speeds and improve safety (200bn lire), new rolling stock (300bn lire) and level crossing elimination (100bn lire).

Freight challenges

The business plan calls for freight market share to grow from 12.5% in 1996 to 14.4% in 2000. This would require a 20% increase in traffic carried by the Integrated Logistics SBA, which achieved a record 2.5billion tonne-km last July, after carrying 77.8million tonnes and generating 23.4billion tonne-km in 1996. Between 1996 and 2000, freight income is to rise from 1382bn to 2025bn lire, and train-km from 78million to 90.7million.

With these challenges ahead, SBA Director Maurizio Bussolo has adopted a new structure that aims to bring Integrated Logistics closer to customers and provide the strength required for success in the increasingly competitive world of European rail freight. Regional directorates in Milano, Venezia, Bologna, Roma and Napoli are complemented by Commercial, Development & Investment and Purchasing & Resource Planning functions.

CAPTION: Latest rolling stock to enter service on FS are the ETR480 trainsets designed to run on new lines electrified at 25 kV 50Hz as well as the existing 3 kV DC network

Le plan stratégique pour les FS sera soutenu par un programme d’investissements

Le directeur général des Chemins de fer de l’Etat Italiens, Giancarlo Cimoli, est en train d’exécuter un plan stratégique de quatre ans qui sera soutenu par un programme d’investissements de 70 000 milliards de lire. En 1999 il est prévu que les contrats réglant les services régionaux passent aux régions. Entretemps les travaux avancent sur deux tronçons du réseau Alta Velocità et la première partie de la ligne Passante de Milano s’est ouverte en décembre

Die Geschäftsstrategie für die FS wird durch Investierungsma·nahmen unterstützt

Giancarlo Cimoli, Generaldirektor der Italienischen Staatsbahnen, ist dabei, eine vierjährige Geschäftsstrategie durchzuführen, die durch eine Reihe von wichtigen Investierungsma·nahmen im Wert von 70 000 Milliarden lire unterstützt wird. Währenddessen schreiten die Arbeiten auf zwei Abschnitten des Hochgeschwindigkeitsnetzes Alta Velocità fort, und der erste Abschnitt der Stadtdurchfahrtsstrecke Passante in Mailand wurde im Dezember er