High-speed rail in Italy

Last updated
Naples, Central station, gorgeous long-distance train.jpg
ETR 500 Frecciarossa (Trenitalia)
Elettrotreno ETR.400.jpg
ETR 1000 Frecciarossa 1000 (Trenitalia)
Italo NTV Class ETR 575 No 575-154.jpg
AGV 575 Italo AGV (NTV)
Frecciaargento 600 112.jpg
ETR 600 Frecciargento (Trenitalia)
Italo Evo in Venezia.jpg
ETR 675  [ it ]Italo EVO (NTV)
Frecciargento FS ETR.700 at Milano Centrale.jpg
ETR 700 Frecciargento (Trenitalia)

High-speed rail in Italy consists of two lines connecting most of the country's major cities. The first line connects Turin to Salerno via Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples, the second runs from Turin to Venice via Milan, and is under construction in parts. [1] Trains are operated with a top speed of 300 km/h (190 mph).


Passenger service is provided by Trenitalia and, since April 2012, by NTV, the world's first private open-access operator of high-speed rail to compete with a state-owned monopoly. 25 million passengers traveled on the network in 2011. [2] In 2015, ridership increased to 55 million for Trenitalia [3] and 9.1 million for NTV, [4] for a combined 64 million passengers.


Passenger km transported on the Italian high speed rail network [5]

The first high-speed rail route in Italy, the Direttissima , opened in 1977, connecting Rome with Florence. The top speed on the line was 250 km/h (160 mph), giving an end-to-end journey time of about 90 minutes with an average speed of 200 km/h (120 mph). This line used a 3 kV DC supply.

High-speed service was introduced on the Rome-Milan line in 1988-89 with the ETR 450 Pendolino train, with a top speed of 250 km/h and cutting travel times from about 5 hours to 4. [6] The prototype train ETR X 500 was the first Italian train to reach 300 km/h (190 mph) on the Direttissima on 25 May 1989. [6]

The Italian high-speed rail projects suffered from a number of cost overruns and delays. Corruption and unethical behaviour played a key role. [7]

In November 2018, the first high-speed freight rail in the world commenced service in Italy. The ETR 500 Mercitalia Fast train carries freight between Caserta and Bologna in 3 hours and 30 minutes, at an average speed of 180 km/h (110 mph). [8] [9]

Rolling stock

Service on the high speed lines is provided by Trenitalia and privately owned NTV. Several types of high-speed trains carry out the service:

Current limitations on the tracks set the maximum operating speed of the trains at 300 km/h (190 mph) after plans for 360 km/h (220 mph) operations were cancelled. [11] Development of the ETR 1000 by AnsaldoBreda and Bombardier Transportation (which is designed to operate commercially at 360 km/h (220 mph), with a technical top speed of over 400 km/h (250 mph)), is proceeding, with Rete Ferroviaria Italiana working on the necessary updates to allow trains to speed up to 360 km/h (220 mph). On 28 May 2018, the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transportation and the National Association for Railway Safety decided not to run the 385 km/h tests required to allow commercial operation at 350 km/h, thus limiting the maximum commercial speed on the existing Italian high-speed lines to 300 km/h and cancelling the project. [12] [13]

TGV trains also run on the Paris-Turin-Milan service, but do not use any high-speed line in Italy. [14]


Italy's high speed rail network Italy TAV.png
Italy's high speed rail network

The following high-speed rail lines are in use.

OpeningTravel timeTop speed
Florence–Rome "Direttissima"2541978-02-24 / 1992-05-261:18250 [15] 3 kV DC
Rome–Naples 2052005-12-19 / 2009-12-131:08300 [15] 25 kV 50 Hz
Turin–Milan 1252006-02-10 (Turin-Novara)
2009-12-13 (Novara-Milan)
0:44300 [15] 25 kV 50 Hz
PaduaVenice (Mestre)
Part of the future Milan–Venice high-speed line
252007-03-010:14220 [15] 3 kV DC
Part of the future Milan–Venice high-speed line
67 [1] 2007-06-10 (Milano-Treviglio)
2016-12-11 (Treviglio-Brescia)
0:36300 (Treviglio-Brescia)

200 (Milano-Treviglio) [15]

3 kV DC

25 kV 50 Hz

Naples-Salerno "via Linea Monte Vesuvio" (L.M.V.)292008-060:30250 [15] 3 kV DC
Milan–Bologna 2152008-12-13 [16] 0:53300 [15] 25 kV 50 Hz
Bologna–Florence 792009-12-050:35300 [15] 25 kV 50 Hz

The table shows minimum and maximum (depending on stops) travel times. [17]

Bologna-0:350:533:15 (3:35)1:54 (2:03)2:02
Florence0:35-1:312:31 (2:51)1:18 (1:45)2:38
Milan0:531:31-3:50 (4:18)2:40 (3:08)0:44 (1:00)
Naples3:15 (3:35)2:31 (2:51)3:50 (4:18)-1:085:00 (5:25)
Rome1:54 (2:35)1:18 (1:45)2:40 (3:08)1:08-3:48
Turin2:022:380:44 (1:00)5:00 (5:25)3:48-

Milan to Salerno Corridor

The Milan to Salerno is the major north–south corridor of the high-speed network.

The Milan–Bologna segment opened on 13 December 2008. Its construction cost was about 6.9 billion euro. The 182 km (113 mi) line runs parallel to the Autostrada del Sole, crossing seven provinces and 32 municipalities. There are eight connections with historic lines. At the Reggio Emilia interconnection a new station designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava was opened in June 2013. Calatrava has also designed a signature bridge where the line crosses the A1 motorway. The line travels through a new multi-level station at Bologna (Italy's principal railway junction) designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.

An ETR 500 AV at Milano Centrale railway station. The version ETR 500 Y1 achieved 362 km/h on the Bologna-Florence line on 4 February 2009, a new world speed record in a tunnel. FS ETR500-brandAV.jpg
An ETR 500 AV at Milano Centrale railway station. The version ETR 500 Y1 achieved 362 km/h on the Bologna-Florence line on 4 February 2009, a new world speed record in a tunnel.

The Bologna–Florence segment opened on 12 December 2009, allowing a 37-minute journey between the two cities. The Bologna-Florence high-speed section was particularly complex to build mainly because about 93% of its 78.5 km (48.8 mi) runs through tunnels under the Apennines mountain range. The line has nine tunnels, from 600 meters to 18.5 km (11.5 mi) long, separated by short surface stretches (less than 5 km in total). Florence will have a major new multi-level high speed station at Belfiore designed by British architect Norman Foster.

The Florence–Rome segment consists of the older "Direttissima" (literally: most direct) line between the two cities, with a length of 240 km (150 mi). The first high-speed line in Europe, the "Direttissima" was completed in between 1977 and 1986. This segment is being upgraded by Treno Alta Velocità. Entering Rome, high-speed trains have the option of stopping at either the new intermodal station at Tiburtina, developed by architects ABD Associate led by Paolo Desideri, or Termini station.

The Rome-Naples segment heads south from the Italian capital. Service on the first new high speed segment of the project started in December 2005. This line runs through 61 municipalities in two regions (Lazio and Campania) and connects with the existing national rail network at Frosinone Nord, Cassino Sud and Caserta Nord. On 13 December 2009, work was completed on the last 18 km of the line between Gricignano and Napoli Centrale. In the Campania region, the line passes through Afragola where a major new transfer station has been built, designed by Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid.

Turin to Trieste Corridor

The Turin to Novara segment of the Turin to Trieste corridor runs for 85 km and opened in February 2006. The Novara to Milan segment opened on 12 December 2009, allowing a 59-minute journey between Milan Centrale and Turin Porta Nuova (45 minutes from Milan Porta Garibaldi to Turin Porta Susa). Combined, the two segments are 125 km long, 80% (98 km) of which are in the region of Piemonte (provinces of Turin, Vercelli and Novara) and 20% (27 km) in the region of Lombardy (province of Milan). To minimize its environmental impact on the area, almost the entire length of the Turin to Milan high-speed line was constructed parallel to the A4 Turin-Milan motorway.

The Milan to Venice segment includes stretches from Padova to Mestre (for Venice), in service since March 2007, [19] and Milan to Brescia, which runs alongside the A35 motorway and opened for service on 11 December 2016. [20] Between Brescia and Verona the new high-speed line will parallel the A4 motorway for 30 of its 48 km (30 mi), and a 7.4-km tunnel will be constructed at Lonato del Garda. [21] This section is due for completion in 2023. [22] The final 75 km (47 mi) stretch between Verona and Padua will be constructed by quadrupling the existing railway. The contract for this was let in August 2020 with completion scheduled for 2027. [23] The section between Verona and Vicenza is to be constructed first. [24]

Ports and Trans-European Connections

A new line connecting Milan to the port of Genoa is now in development and further expansion of the trans-Alpine lines will integrate the Italian network with the European networks planned by the EU and the large intermodal pan-European transport corridors.

The objective of the new Alpine rail links is to increase rail transport, aimed mainly at supporting the forecast development of freight transport on international lines, complete interoperability between European High Speed networks, the shift from road to rail of a large percentage of freight for modal rebalancing, higher safety levels in tunnels as specified in the new European technology and construction standards.

Planned engineering works include the construction of new international lines and the upgrading of existing Italian track on the following lines:

Lines under construction


A line from Milan to Genoa was approved in 2006 at €6.2 billion; construction work started in 2011. [25] Work between Genoa and Tortona was temporarily halted due to funding problems, but restarted in 2019 and now is expected to be completed by 2023. [26]


On the line from Milan to Venice high speed trains still have to use the conventional line between Brescia and Padua. The remaining portion from Brescia to Padua is under construction at a cost of €2.5 billion, while the rest of the line is already in operation. The section between Brescia and Verona will be completed in 2023 while construction should finish on the section between Verona and Padua in 2027, including a 7.7 kilometer tunnel between Lonato del Garda and Desenzano del Garda. [27]


The construction of the line from Naples to Bari began in 2015 [28] and will cut Naples–Bari journeys from four to two hours. [29] Totaling €6.2 billion for the whole project, the final €2.1 billion needed to complete the project was approved in 2019. [27] The completion of the line is projected for 2027. [30]


Palermo and Catania, Sicily's largest cities, are currently connected by a double-track railway which is limited to a single-track section between Catenanuova and Bicocca (near Catania). This requires trains to stop and wait for the train from the opposite direction to pass. The first step to improving this line is doubling this single-track section of 38 kilometers. This will enable a higher maximum speed of 200 km/h compared to the current 90 km/h. [31] Construction started in 2019 at a cost of €415 million. The work on both tracks is expected to finish in 2023. Eventually, further improvements as part of the entire €8 billion project will enable a maximum speed of 250 km/h on the line. [32] The upgrade of the line will reduce the journey time between Palermo and Catania to one hour and 45 minutes in 2025, saving one hour. [33]


The Turin–Lyon line should connect Turin, Lyon and Chambéry, and join the Italian and the French high speed rail networks. It would take over the role of the current Fréjus railway. The project costs €26 billion, with the Mont d'Ambin Base Tunnel, a 57.5 kilometer trans-alpine tunnel between Italy and France, costing €18.3 billion. [34] Although the plan was highly controversial, the Italian senate approved funding in mid-2019, [35] with the project tentatively due to be completed in 2029. [36]


The Brenner Base Tunnel will link Verona, Innsbruck, and Munich, and thus connect the Italian, Austrian and German railways. The tunnel is the most important link in a series of projects that will create a single connection from Berlin in Germany to Palermo in Sicily as part of the Trans-European Transport Networks. The tunnel crosses the border between Innsbruck in Austria and Fortezza in Italy. The total costs of the tunnel are estimated at around €8.4 billion, of which 40% is co-financed in equal measure by Italy and Austria and 50% by the European Union. [37] As of 2020, half of the tunnel's length has been excavated and it is due to be opened in 2028. [38]

A new high speed line between Verona and Fortezza is constructed on the Italian side and is about 180 kilometers long. The line will have a design speed of 200–250 kilometers and will quadruple the current two tracks of the existing low speed line. It has been budgeted at approximately €5 billion and is expected to be completed by the end of the works on the Brenner Base Tunnel. [39]

Lines planned

Salerno–Reggio Calabria

A line from Salerno to Reggio Calabria is currently in the planning stage. It has been budgeted at €11.2 billion and will reduce the travel time from Rome to Reggio Calabria from approximately five to four hours. A projected completion date is currently unknown. [40]

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Transport in Italy Overview of the transport in Italy

Italy has a well developed transport infrastructure. The Italian rail network is extensive, especially in the north, and it includes a high-speed rail network that joins the major cities of Italy from Naples through northern cities such as Milan and Turin. Italy has 2,507 people and 12.46 km2 per kilometer of rail track, giving Italy the world's 13th largest rail network.

Milano Centrale railway station Railway station in Milan, Italy

Milano Centrale is the main railway station of the city of Milan, Italy, and is the largest railway station in Europe by volume. The station is a terminus and located at the northern end of central Milan. It was officially inaugurated in 1931 to replace the old central station, which was a transit station but with a limited number of tracks and space, so could not handle the increased traffic caused by the opening of the Simplon tunnel in 1906.

Trenitalia Italian railway company

Trenitalia is the primary train operator in Italy. A subsidiary of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, itself owned by the Italian government, the company was established in 2000 following a European Union directive on the deregulation of rail transport.

Bologna Centrale railway station

Bologna Centrale is a railway station in Bologna, Italy. The station is situated at the northern edge of the city centre. It is located at the southern end of the Milan-Bologna high-speed line, which opened on 13 December 2008, and the northern end of three lines between Bologna and Florence: the original Bologna-Florence line through Porretta Terme and Pistoia; the Bologna–Florence Direttissima via Prato, which opened on 22 April 1934 and the Bologna-Florence high-speed line, which opened to traffic on 13 December 2009.

Rail transport in Italy

The Italian railway system is one of the most important parts of the infrastructure of Italy, with a total length of 24,227 km (15,054 mi) of which active lines are 16,723 km. The network has recently grown with the construction of the new high-speed rail network. Italy is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). The UIC Country Code for Italy is 83.

Hitachi Rail Italy S.p.A. is a multinational rolling stock manufacturer company based in Pistoia, Italy. Formerly AnsaldoBreda S.p.A., a subsidiary of state-owned Finmeccanica, the company was sold in 2015 to Hitachi Rail of Japan. After the deal was finalized, the current name was adapted in November 2015 to reflect the new ownership.

Eurostar Italia

Eurostar Italia was the name given to high-speed trains operated by Trenitalia in Italy. The brand was discontinued and replaced with Le Frecce in December 2012.

Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Infrastructure manager for Italys railways

Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane S.p.A., is a state-owned holding company that manages infrastructure and services on the Italian rail network.

History of rail transport in Italy Aspect of history

The Italian railway system is one of the most important parts of the infrastructure of Italy, with a total length of 24,227 km (15,054 mi) as of 2011.

Milan–Bologna high-speed railway Key northern Italian transport link

The Milan–Bologna high-speed railway is a railway line that links the cities of Milan and Bologna, part of the Italian high-speed rail network. It runs parallel to the historical north-south railway between Milan and Bologna, which itself follows the ancient Roman Road, the Via Aemilia. The new railway follows the Autostrada A1 closely for much of its length. The new line allows faster traffic to run separated and increase the overall railway capacity between the two cities.

Torino Porta Susa railway station

Torino Porta Susa is a railway station in Turin, northern Italy; it is the second busiest mainline station in the city, after Torino Porta Nuova. It is located in Corso Inghilterra.

Milan–Bologna railway Key northern Italian transport link

The Milan–Bologna railway is the northern part of the traditional main north-south trunk line of the Italian railway network. It closely follows the ancient Roman Road, the Via Aemilia. The line was opened between 1859 and 1861 as a single-line railway, and was doubled between 1866 and 1894. It was electrified at 3,000 volts DC in 1938. High-speed trains on the route have used the parallel Milan–Bologna high-speed line since 13 December 2008.

Milan–Venice railway

The Milan–Venice railway line is one of the most important railway lines in Italy. It connects the major city of Milan, in Lombardy, with the Adriatic Sea at Venice, in Veneto. The line is state-owned and operated by the state rail infrastructure company, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana that classifies it as a trunk line. The line is electrified at 3,000 volts DC.

Frecciarossa Italian high-speed train

Frecciarossa is a high-speed train of the Italian national train operator, Trenitalia, and a member of the train category Le Frecce. The name, which, if spelled "Freccia rossa" means "Red arrow" in English, was introduced in 2009 after it had previously been known as Eurostar Italia. Frecciarossa trains operate at speeds of up to 300 km/h (190 mph). Frecciarossa is the premier service of Trenitalia and competes with italo, operated by Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori.

Novara railway station

Novara railway station is the main station serving the city and comune of Novara, in the Piedmont region, northwestern Italy. Opened in 1854, it forms part of the Turin–Milan and is origin of the lines to Arona, to Alessandria, to Biella, Varallo, Domodossola and Luino, respectively.

Vercelli railway station

Vercelli railway station is the main station serving the city and comune of Vercelli, in the Piedmont region, northwestern Italy. Opened in 1856, it forms part of the Turin–Milan railway, and is also a junction station for two other lines, to Valenza and Pavia, respectively.

Brescia railway station

Brescia railway station is the main station of Brescia, in the region of Lombardy, northern Italy. The station, opened in 1854, lies on the Milan-Venice railway and is a terminus of three branch lines: Valcamonica Railway to Edolo, Bergamo–Brescia railway and Brescia–Piadena/Cremona railway which branches off towards southeast of the station.

FS Class ETR 500 Italian high-speed trainset

ETR 500 is a family of Italian high-speed trains built by AnsaldoBreda and introduced in 1993.

Frecciarossa 1000 Italian high-speed trainset

The Frecciarossa 1000, also known as the ETR 1000, is a high-speed train operated by Italian state railway operator Trenitalia. It was co-developed as a joint venture between Italian rail manufacturer Hitachi Rail Italy and multinational conglomerate Alstom. Both design and production work were divided between the two partner companies.

Bologna–Ancona railway Key eastern Italian transport link

The Bologna–Ancona railway is an Italian railway that connects the city of Bologna with the city of Ancona, passing through the Po Valley to Rimini and along the Adriatic coast for the rest of the line.


  1. 1 2 "Brescia high speed line construction begins". Railway Gazette. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  2. "Alta velocità e concorrenza: parte la sfida". il Sole 24 Ore. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  3. "Alta velocità, in dieci anni 300 milioni di passeggeri". Il Sole 24 ORE (in Italian). Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  4. "Articolo su Italiaoggi.it".
  5. "Il mercato del Trasporto Ferroviario A/V - NTV, Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori". www.ntvspa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  6. 1 2 "Alta velocità. Una storia di successi tutti italiani" (PDF). Trenitalia. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  7. Locatelli, Giorgio; Mariani, Giacomo; Sainati, Tristano; Greco, Marco (2017-04-01). "Corruption in public projects and megaprojects: There is an elephant in the room!". International Journal of Project Management. 35 (3): 252–268. doi: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2016.09.010 .
  8. van Leijen, M. (11 February 2018). "High Speed freight train Italy hits the track on 7 November". ProMedia Group. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  9. van Leijen, M. (22 March 2019). "High-speed line for freight: not just fast, also on time". ProMedia Group. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  10. Marco Morino: All'Expo con il Frecciarossa 1000 Il Sole 24 Ore, 7 August 2014
  11. "Italy rejects plans to increase speed to 350km/h". International Railway Journal. 2018-05-31. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  12. "RFI fined for discrimination in planning for 360km/h operation". International Railway Journal. 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  13. Lucio Cillis: Repubblica Affari e Finanza, 2018-05-28
  14. Substantial travel time differences between the French TGV (around 80 minutes) and Italian high speed trains (around 50 minutes) (Both non-stop times). This time difference of 30 minutes can only be caused by the TGV taking the slower classic route. The fast regional trains who do not take the high speed take only slightly a bit longer, but they have more stops. There is one TGV that stops in Novara with only marginal extra time. It is not possible to stop in Novara without using the Novara - Milan old classic line. Consulted 2017 and 2016 timetables.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 see Fascicoli Circolazione Linee links in for technical data of RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana) lines
  16. Reuters Italy launches Milan-Bologna high speed train link December 13, 2008
  17. The table is based on Trenitalia timetables (2011)
  18. "Due record in prova per il Frecciarossa" (in Italian). Repubblica. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  19. "Verona-Padua-Venice High Speed/High Capacity Line". Italferr. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  20. "High speed network grows as Brescia–Treviglio route opens". Railway Gazette. 2016-12-12. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  21. "Italy builds high-speed railway between Brescia and Verona". Railway Pro. 2017-07-19. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  22. "Works continue for Brescia Est–Verona high speed rail". Railway Pro. 2020-04-20. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  23. "Work Starts on First Section of Verona Padua High-Speed Railway". Metro Rail News. 2020-08-13. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  24. "Verona–Vicenza high speed line contract awarded". Railway Gazette. 2020-08-14. Retrieved 2020-10-04.
  25. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. "FS to invest €94bn and double turnover by 2026". International Railway Journal. 2016-09-29. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  27. 1 2 2019-07-25T16:11:33+01:00. "New lines go ahead as FS infrastructure spending approved". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  28. Briginshaw, David. "FS to invest €94bn and double turnover by 2026".
  29. Burroughs, David. "WEBUILD installs first of three 2500-tonne bridges for Naples – Bari high-speed line". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  30. Burroughs, David. "WEBUILD installs first of three 2500-tonne bridges for Naples – Bari high-speed line". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  31. "Europe's subway arrives in Sicilia". We Build Value Digital Magazine. 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  32. "Work commences to double the Bicocca-Catenanuova railway along the Palermo-Catania line". Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  33. "Ferrovie: via a lavori sulla Catania-Palermo, treni a 200 all'ora". ilSicilia.it. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  34. Bellamy, Daniel (2019-07-27). "Italy agrees to resume controversial Turin-Lyon high-speed rail link". euronews. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  35. "Italian Senate backs train link with France, widening coalition rift". euronews. 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  36. "SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE. Les travaux du Lyon-Turin débutent le 15 janvier". www.ledauphine.com (in French). Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  37. "The Brenner Pass and the Fortezza Verona Line". Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  38. "Brenner Base Tunnel Excavation Reaches Halfway Point". Tunnel Business Magazine. 2020-02-05. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  39. "The Brenner Pass and the Fortezza Verona Line". Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  40. "NRRP: 62 billion euros allocated to MIMS for sustainable mobility, infrastructures and logistics, 56% to the South". Ministero delle infrastrutture e della mobilità sostenibili. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 8 July 2021.