ITALY: Open access high speed train operator Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori has decided to delay its planned launch of commercial services from September 'until late autumn', with November now seen as the earliest likely date.

Speaking at the Future of European Rail conference in Brusssels on March 16, Giuseppe Bonollo, NTV’s Director of Sales, Marketing & Services, attributed the delay to 'problems' with the train approval and certification process.

Although a speed of 330 km/h was achieved with Alstom's Pégase AGV demonstrator on the Milano – Bologna line on December 12, the first of the 25 production AGV trainsets was not delivered to Italy until later that month. This set is currently undergoing trials as part of the approvals process. It is temporarily based at Bologna pending completion of NTV’s dedicated Nola maintenance depot and workshop near Napoli, which is now expected in May.

However, the first production train is not fitted with seats and other interior equipment, and it will have to be retrofitted after completion of the acceptance tests, becoming the last of the 25 to be handed over in finished form. The second train will be fully equipped, and is now expected to be delivered by the end of April. Further deliveries of the 460-seat trains will follow during the rest of the year, allowing NTV to start driver and crew familiarisation.

Bonollo says NTV services will begin with an initial five trains a day each way between Milano and Napoli. However, the operator does not expect to start accepting reservations until one month before the launch of services.