ITALY: Trenitalia has begun test running with one of the 17 AnsaldoBreda V250 trainsets which it acquired cheaply following their short and troubled life on Fyra services in the Netherlands and Belgium. The first test run left Milano Centrale for Bologna Centrale at 20:30 on February 4.
The trainsets are now designated ETR 700. Trenitalia is planning to use them this summer on the Adriatic coast route, which has been upgraded to permit 200 km/h operation. The Milano – Bologna – Ancona – Pescara – Bari – Lecce route is expected to be the first to be operated using V250 trainsets, followed by Venezia – Bologna – Bari – Lecce.
NS and SNCB ordered 19 V250 trainsets in 2004 to operate high speed services between the Netherlands and Belgium, but following a series of high-profile failures they were rejected by both operators in early 2013. The fleet was repurchased by the manufacturer, and remained the property of its parent company Leonardo after being excluded from the sale of AnsaldoBreda to Hitachi Rail Italy.
In August 2017 Trenitalia acquired 17 of the trainsets in a deal which includes five years of maintenance with an option for a further five years. At the time Trenitalia said this was a ‘bargain purchase, taking advantage of a particularly advantageous opportunity available for a very short time at a price considerably lower than market prices’. Two sets were to be used for spare parts.
The trainsets’ 25 kV 50 Hz and 3 kV DC capability makes them suitable for operation throughout Italy, and Trenitalia hopes that technical changes will enable them to be operated reliably on medium-speed routes.