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ITALY: A 5∙1 km monorail linking Bologna’s Marconi Airport with the city’s main line station opened for revenue service on November 18.

Serving a single intermediate station at Lazzaretto, the Marconi Express-branded monorail offers an end-to-end journey time of 7 min; the shuttle uses a single guideway with a passing loop located alongside the maintenance depot and control centre at Lazzaretto. It runs entirely on an elevated alignment up to 7∙6 m above ground.

Each three-section peoplemover can carry 70 passengers; the 18 m long cars feature aluminium bodyshells and have a maximum speed of 80 km/h. The automated shuttle is equipped with a photovoltaic power supply which is expected to cut energy consumption by up to 30%.

The guideway, vehicles, power supply and platform screen doors were supplied by Intamin Transportation, while STS Bologna carried out engineering design, Iosa Ghini Associati was lead architect and Steer served as a consultant. Construction began on October 31 2015, and the main civils contractor was MATE. Overall project cost was €125m, of which €27m came from the Emilia Romagna region.

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The line had been scheduled to open on March 7, but the inauguration was postponed because of the Covid-19 crisis. The shuttle is expected to carry 1 million passengers in its first year of operation; route capacity is 570 passengers per hour per direction.

However, a reduced service with restricted vehicle occupancy is in place during the initial operating phase because of social distancing requirements and depressed demand for air travel. Bologna airport was used by 9∙5 million passengers in 2019.