Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The power of the press release

Today, the [London] Times thunders that:
From 2011 Nuovo Transporto Viaggiatori (NTV) will operate a fleet of 25 trains, travelling at speeds of up to 225mph, between cities such as Rome, Milan, Florence and Naples.
And, yes, Queen Anne is dead.

Fortunately, the Daily Telegraph has a more adequate report (under a predictable cliché of a headline, Italian trains fast-forward into the future):
Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV), the first privately owned high-speed train operator in Italy, is to operate a fleet of 25 futuristic-looking trains, travelling at speeds of up to 225mph.

The new services, called Italo, will launch in early 2011 linking cities such as Turin, Milan, Bologna, Florence[,] Naples, Bari and Rome and will reduce journey times by up to a third. The journey from Rome to Milan will fall from more than four hours to three hours.
Those "futuristic" trains, French-made by Alstom, are a variant of those already running across France and elsewhere. SNCF has an investment in NTV.

As for the news value of this, the contract between Alstom and NTV was signed in January 2008. The most recent development was the announcement that the name ".italo" (yes, the dot and colouring are significant) had been chosen: not, as the Telegraph reports, "Italo". Even that was publicised on 15 April.

As for the arrival of high-speed rail to Florence, there's a damn great electonic count-down outside Stazione Centrale di Santa Maria Novella: it's pretty hard to miss it. Other stations have something similar. The message is Trenitalia's Alta Velocità is coming, on 12th December.

Even now, it's easy to zip the 140-odd miles between Florence and Rome for a day-trip. Train 9311 leaves at 8.24 tomorrow morning; and takes just 1hr 36min. The 6.22 pm service from Rome does the return trip three minutes faster, well in time to spruce up and dine at Coquinarius, just behind the Duomo. And all for less than €80. Book further ahead, and get it cheaper. Take a slower train and do the trip for peanuts. A comparable journey, say from Norwich to London, takes two hours, as near as dammit, for an unblinking £80: and you'll not wine-and-dine as well, or as reasonably, anywhere back in Norwich.

As for the Telegraph crack:
[.italo] will represent a new development for Italian trains, which have a reputation for a lack of punctuality and comfort
Charles Starmer-Smith, the "author" of that cut-and-paste piece, has clearly not travelled enough by Eurostar Italia, or he chooses to confuse the prestige service with the slow-and-easy local trains.

Or he certainly would not assume that the service between Norwich and London represents a comparison for "punctuality and service".

And the Trenitalia web-site (though, obviously, modelled on but not quite in the same league as that of the magnificent DBahn) is a long way in advance of anything the UK service providers put up. Sphere: Related Content

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