ITALIAN ministers have signed off a five-year business plan for Italian Railways (RG 4.07 p194). Submitted in February, the proposals will see Trenitalia order 1 000 new trains for local and regional passenger services by 2011 at a cost of k6?4bn.Approval came at a meeting on May 4 attended by Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Transport Minister Alessandro Bianchi, Finance Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, Infrastructure Minister Antonio di Pietro, FS President Innocenzo Cipolletta and Chief Executive Mauro Moretti. The plans now go forward for discussions with regional authorities and the railway trade unions.After last year’s loss of k2bn, FS Group has committed to the passenger business breaking even in 2009-10, with freight moving into the black by 2011. Key to achieving the passenger target is a series of fare rises for medium-distance and long-distance journeys, with a 10% increase planned for October.FS Group management has also undertaken to cut the payroll by around 10 000 over the next four years. A significant increase in productivity should follow from an agreement to end the practice of having two fully-qualified drivers in the cab of all freight trains and many passenger services.Investment in the new trains is geared to a massive increase in capacity for commuter services in many cities, where major infrastructure works are in hand to separate local traffic from freight and long-distance passenger trains. Details of investment in railway infrastructure over the next few years are due to be announced by the transport ministry this month.n