Italy’s rolling stock commitment continues

Posted: 15 September 2006 | | No comments yet

Trenitalia, the transportation company of the Ferrovie dello Stato (State Railways) Group, has been pursuing ambitious investment programmes for a number of years now, with the dual goal of modernising its fleet while guaranteeing its passengers increasingly elevated standards of comfort and safety.

Trenitalia, the transportation company of the Ferrovie dello Stato (State Railways) Group, has been pursuing ambitious investment programmes for a number of years now, with the dual goal of modernising its fleet while guaranteeing its passengers increasingly elevated standards of comfort and safety.

Trenitalia, the transportation company of the Ferrovie dello Stato (State Railways) Group, has been pursuing ambitious investment programmes for a number of years now, with the dual goal of modernising its fleet while guaranteeing its passengers increasingly elevated standards of comfort and safety.

In 2005 alone, the group spent 1 billion, 100 million Euro to modernise its fleet, placing in operation 39 new poly-voltage ETR 500 locomotives, 41 new E464 locomotives, 25 Vivalto cars and 91 Minuetto trains. And, starting from December of this year, an additional 12 new commuter trains shall be available.

What is more, Trenitalia shall maintain this noteworthy financial commitment over the next two years, as part of an investment plan calling for overall spending of €9 billion, of which €7.5 billion for the renewal of the fleet and ?1.5 for safety. These investments, along with initiatives involving existing materials, translate into:

  • 12 new generation ‘Tilting’ commuter trains, which shall begin arriving in February 2007; – 200 Minuetto trains, of which 156 had already been delivered as of 31 August 2006. The remaining 44 trains will arrive by the end of March 2007
  • 48 Vivalto trains, meaning 300 cars, of which 18 trains had been delivered by July of 2006. The other 30 are scheduled for delivery by the end of March 2007
  • 388 model E464 locomotives, 328 of which had been delivered as of 31 August 2006. The other 60 are scheduled for delivery by the end of August 2007
  • 60 new poly-voltage ETR 500 locomotives, 40 of which have already been delivered, while the other 20 will arrive by the end of 2006, marking the conclusion of the project

Along with the new purchases, the Plan calls for:

  • The restructuring of 640 low-loader cars, 488 have already been delivered, with 110 scheduled for delivery by the end of the year and 42 during 2007, plus 24 double-deck cars to be delivered by the end of the year, in addition to the 119 delivered last year
  • The high-speed branding of another 60 model ETR500 locomotives, 24 of which had already been outfitted in 2005, with 30 completed in 2006 and the remaining six for 2007


But the activities connected with new purchases of rolling stock are not limited to the above.

Trenitalia has opened three new tenders for the purchase of new rolling stock of the latest generation, to be used both for regional transport and the new high-speed trains.

The first tender, currently in the assessment phase, involves the purchase of 1,000 low-loader cars equipped with the latest technology, such as rapid boarding doors, onboard diagnostics for remote detection of malfunctions and a system of onboard information (Oboe) used to inform passengers of what is happening onboard the train, at the stations of arrival etc. in real time.

The second tender, now getting underway, will regard the purchase of new high-speed materials of the latest generation, to be put in use by the end of 2010. This equipment is poly-voltage (meaning that it can operate on any type of line, regardless of the power feed) and will be able to reach 300km/h. This tender is meant as a preliminary phase to all the high-speed infrastructure work being performed by RFI.

The third tender, also getting underway, will involve the most heavily trafficked junctures on which the new generation of double-deck self-propelled cars, the so-called TAF, are to begin operation.


There are also new developments in terms of maintenance, a key area of activity when it comes to guaranteeing the high standards of service demanded by customers, together with continuity of operations, efficiency and durability of the equipment. The department has been reorganised, with the setting of new industrial maintenance that are more specific and performance centred, capable both of containing costs and of ensuring constant, effective maintenance.


Finally, there are the investments in safety. As is widely known, the Italian Railway Service is the European leader in terms of safety, with the lowest UIC accident index in real terms. This is a result of major investments, especially in the area of technology. Trenitalia is currently investing ?1.5 billion in safety, with installation of the SCMT (System for the Control of Train Traffic), designed to guarantee high levels of safety, on all 4,500 of the fleet’s locomotives.

Under this extremely ambitious installation programme, the system had been installed on 1,200 locomotives as of 31 December, in an effort unmatched in Europe. It should be remembered that, in order to install the device, the locomotive must be kept out of operation for between 15 and 30 days. By the end of 2007, the entire Italian railway shall be equipped with the new SCMT and SSC (Operating Support System – an advanced system supporting the engineer) technologies.


This multifaceted investment policy, combined with a suitable commercial strategy, has generated results in terms of operating performance and increased numbers of passengers.

In the first six months of 2006, the overall on-time index was 90%, with peaks of 94% and 95%, for both regional and Eurostar trains. During the same period, passenger traffic grew by 2% (in terms of passenger-kilometres), compared to the corresponding period of 2005. This worked out to almost 15 million more passengers. The largest increase was recorded for passengers on Eurostar trains, which showed growth of almost 4%, while regional traffic grew by + 3% over the first half of 2005.


Travellers reacted with particular enthusiasm to the new high-speed Eurostar trains, currently in operation on the high-speed lines between Rome and Naples and Turin and Milan, which have already been used by 600,000 passengers.

The extremely well developed onboard technology of this equipment includes, among other things, monitors in the lounges, video touch screens in the entry areas to the cars and an onboard Lan network. There are six LCD 17” 16:9 colour monitors located in each 1st and 2nd class lounge, ready to provide information on the trip and the train, such as the geographic position, the cruising speed, the distance from the destination and the services onboard and on the ground. Each entry zone is equipped with a 15’’ touch screen through which passengers can receive a wide array of information services helpful for continuing their travels (schedules and ticket prices), finding telephone numbers and/or addresses and obtaining other useful information (on current films and plays). All the passenger lounges are equipped with access point, thanks to which it will soon be possible to connect with the onboard Intranet, meaning that all passengers with personal computing devices (Laptop, Tablet, Palm, etc) outfitted for Wi-Fi connection can hook up to the train’s portal and navigate among the numerous services and contents offered. In fact, using the onboard Intranet, all the services available on the touch screen can be accessed, but with more in-depth contents, in addition to which entertainment services can be obtained (films, games, mp3, e-books etc.)

Passenger expectations

The underlying concept for the new Eurostar high-speed trains and service was formulated together with the passengers, whose expectations and levels of approval were researched. The monitoring of traveller expectations demonstrated that the majority of requests regard speed, reliability, cleanliness, comfort, more sophisticated and well cared-for settings, user-friendly trains and services, flexible product offerings, technological innovation customisation of travel periods and guaranteed relaxation.

Activation plan

It is worth noting that the plan for the activation of the new high-speed lines and services focussed first on the Rome-Naples line (December 2005) and then Turin-Novara (February 2006). As of today, there are 14 trains scheduled on the Rome-Naples line and 10 connecting Turin and Milan.

By the end of 2008, the service shall be extended to the Bologna-Florence and Milan-Bologna lines. On the new routes between Turin, Milan and Naples, which have been quadrupled, the capacity for railway movement will ultimately have risen more than twofold.

The High Speed/High Capacity project will also have positive Fallout on the entire national railway system, making it possible to free up spaces on the traditional routes, currently at the limit of their potential. Of particular importance is the chance to achieve a marked improvement in the quality of local and metropolitan services, which can be scheduled at higher frequencies and with increased regularity. The Italian railway system is the first in Europe to install the new ERTMS/ETCS (European Rail Traffic Management System/European Train Control System) signalling system on its new high-speed lines, ensuring safe travel on the part of trains of different nationalities, plus optimal traffic control and management. The ERTMS/ETCS standard utilises uniform messages and instruments for the exchange of signal information between land facilities and trains. On the High Speed/High Capacity lines, the ERTMS/ETCS system provides the engineer with all the information needed for optimal operation, continually monitoring the effects of the engineer’s performance and activating the emergency brake whenever the train exceeds the authorised limit. The ERTMS/ETCS – Level 2 for communications between ground and onboard personnel uses the GSM-R system, which, when applied to railroads, makes possible both voice communications and data transmission, ensuring control of safe operations.


Conspicuous investments have also been made in rolling stock used in the freight sector: ?80 million has been allocated for the purchase of new rolling stock, plus an additional €7 million for the implementation of new technological developments.
An especially challenging area is that of logistics, which finds Trenitalia hard at work in a number of different areas, and with excellent results for the first half of the year, as in the case of passenger transport.

What is more, the volume of freight traffic has grown to a significant extent, registering an increase of 5% for the first six months of the year (in terms of kilometre-tons), compared to the same period of 2005. Of particular note is the growth in national traffic, up 11%, once again in terms of km-tons. Contributing to these positive results are the favourable overall industrial conditions.

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