DONATO CARILLO, Head of the Alta Velocita Division at Trenitalia, suggests there are good reasons for the cautious start-up of high speed services between Roma and Napoli.

Public services with Trenitalia’s new AV branding began on December 22, although there were just two trains a day each way and no fares were charged until January 22. From that date a flat rate of €25 applied in both first and second class until February 28 when it was increased.

The situation remained unchanged until March 26, when two more round trips were added, giving four trains each way per day. Carillo says that the service will be doubled again in June to give eight trains a day in each direction. In addition, an unspecified number of services to and from cities north of Roma will start to run over the new line - until now the trains have only operated between Roma Termini and Napoli Centrale. A complete revision of the timetable is planned in December, according to Carillo.

On the high speed line from Torino to Novara that opened on February 10 for Winter Olympics traffic (RG 4.06 p184) there were just two trains a day each way from Malpensa Airport to Torino. A further two services ran in each direction over the new line, continuing beyond Novara to Milano Centrale. These carried 28000 passengers in the first two weeks compared with just 7000 on the Malpensa trains, which ceased running on February 26. On the following day Trenitalia stepped up the Torino - Milano AV-branded service to four in each direction daily.

Carillo’s answer to the question about the timid start is simply that even in early March there were just 10 trainsets available to operate on the two new lines, which are controlled by Level 2 ETCS with no back-up lineside signalling. The dual-voltage ETR500 sets have been modified with Level 2 equipment; they have also had the main transformers changed in each power car because the number of intermediate trailers has been increased from 11 to 12. It takes six weeks to modify each set, during which it also undergoes internal refurbishment to match the AV branding and is equipped with wi-fi. This work is being carried out at Trenitalia’s AV workshops in Vicenza.

The remaining 20 ETR500 sets from the build ordered in 1995 are being modified, together with 30 of the earlier series ordered in 1992. In fact one ETR500 set was written off last year after a near-disastrous derailment in southern Italy in which the rear power car nearly fell off a washed-out bridge, leaving just 59 trains in the fleet.

The 15-strong fleet of dual-voltage ETR480 second-generation Pendolino sets will also be fitted with Level 2 ETCS for use on the Roma - Napoli and Torino - Novara lines. Next year Trenitalia will take delivery of 12 third-generation Pendolino trainsets, and these will emerge from Alstom’s Savigliano factory fully fitted for operation on the AV network. The same applies to the 15 new Cisalpino trainsets that will follow the Pendolino fleet off the production line. The total fleet of trains able to run on the AV network will thus be 101.

Carillo says that 79 Class E402B dual-system locos are also to be fitted, in addition to one locomotive owned by RFI that is already equipped with ETCS to haul the Archimede inspection train. The timescale for this work is uncertain, not least because of the cost of fitting ETCS Level 2, which Carillo estimates at €400000 to €450000 per locomotive. n

CAPTION: TOP: The power cars for Trenitalia’s fleet of dual-voltage ETR500 trainsets are being fitted with new transformers and modified to operate with ETCS Level 2

LEFT: An ETR500 accelerates through the southern suburbs of the Italian capital, parallel to the incomplete formation that from next year will carry AV services right into the city Photos:David Campione