ITALY’S first automatic metro was formally opened on February 4 by Transport Minister Pietro Lunardi and Torino Mayor Sergio Chiamparino.

Torino residents had their first look at the new line on February 5, when celebrations were held in the Piazza XVIII Dicembre near Porta Susa and the stations were opened to over 30000 visitors. Gruppo Torinese Trasporti offered free travel for much of the following week, with full revenue services starting on February 10 to coincide with the opening of the Winter Olympic Games.

Running for 7·5 km between Fermi in the western suburb of Collegno and XVIII Dicembre, the first phase of the rubber-tyred line serves 11 stations. Four more are due to be added next year with the completion of the rest of the initial route from Porta Susa to the city’s principal station at Porta Nuova. Work is also underway on a 4 km extension from Porta Nuova to Lingotto, which will add a further six stations.

Under construction since December 2000, at a total cost of around €1bn, the metro has automation equipment from Siemens France. It is worked by a fleet of 19 VAL208 two-car trainsets, which run as four-car trains carrying up to 440 passengers. Headways range from 3min at peak times to 6min off-peak. With trains running at a top speed of 80 km/h, the end-to-end journey time is 15min.