ALSTOM confirmed on January 17 that it had agreed a €650m contract to supply 25 Automotrice à Grande Vitesse trainsets to Italian open access company Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori.

The announcement follows the award by the Italian Ministry of Transport of a railway company licence to NTV. Founded in December 2006, NTV plans to become Europe's first private operator of high speed trains with the launch in 2011 of 300 km/h services on the Torino - Milano - Napoli - Salerno, Roma - Bologna - Venezia and Roma - Napoli - Bari routes.

Alstom submitted its bid to supply the 25 AGV trains in March last year. Each set will be 11 cars long, and Alstom says it 'foresees' an option for a further 10 sets. A separate contract will cover maintenance for 30 years. Full details of the new trains will be unveiled in Roma on February 7.

The roll out is also expected shortly of a prototype seven-car AGV, which Alstom has been developing at its own expense since 2004. The train is being built at the La Rochelle plant in France, and will under going testing at the Velim test circuit in the Czech Republic. The AGV will feature distributed power, and follows from two research vehicles built in 2001 which were trialled with TGV Réseau vehicles as part of the Elisa test train.