The new train of the Italian private railway operator, Italo NTV, rapidly left on its maiden voyage from Rome to Naples with a load of 300 accredited journalist specialists in the travel trade and technology industry from around the world. The historical event was attended by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the President of NTV (New Travelers Train), the first Italian private railway operator and first-ever competitor of Trenitalia, a lifetime monopolist of the Italian railways system up to April 2012.
Montezemolo said, “Our eyes [are] on the regional competition.”
“Italo is the contribution of a private enterprise to the economic rally of our country without involving the government with financial contribution,” said Mr. Montezemolo, “We have the best train in the world in terms of comfort, safety, and environmental impact, at great prices and services that no other operator can offer. All this comfort without extra charges! We created job opportunities for 1,000 young people – average age 30, 50 percent women – a beautiful and strong company that has goals and has undertaken major risks that costs nothing to the Italian tax payers.”
Italo’s present network plan is to operate the major links of North-Central South Italy’s high-speed lines. The next target is the regional lines network. “We were born when Europe opened the competition on the high-speed,” said Montezemolo, “We also need regional routes and also to serve the south, with benefits of better prices and better service, new jobs and more growth. The plan requires genuine call for tenders, not fake ones [author’s note: this refers to most of the Italian public calls for tender style, which are usually manipulated].
Red Maranello and the Rampant Rabbit
The maiden trip of Italo set off from the renovated to new life Tiburtina Railway Station in Rome, reaching Naples in one hour and ten minutes. The reported speed in real time from the internal display showed a record speed of 300 km per hour. Upon arrival at Naples Central, Italo was met by an enthusiastic crowd shouting, “The competition has arrived!” This amused Montezemolo, who posed for photos with local staff wearing the corporate T-shirt.
The convoy of 11 carriages – the first four for First Class passengers, followed by the exclusive Club Class coach, and the remainder 6 to host the low-cost fares. Each carriage has panoramic-view windows, offering direct cable TV so that “we may be able to watch the Olympics” said Montezemolo, in a dedicated coach turned into a cinema, where first-release films can be watched. And Wi-Fi is everywhere, all included in the price of the ticket. The seats in Smart Class are comfortable armchairs equipped with electric plugs, coat hangers, and ample leg space for easy movement. And get this: there are “talking” toilet doors that display an electronic message to inform if it is vacant or occupied, avoiding any attempt to be opened while it is being used.
The body of Italo reflects the classic red of a Ferrari car, a key factor of an image of Italian prestige purposely applied to the train. The simplicity of the design includes a small character of the writing “italo” – a name that echoes the style of the Fiat car, Punto, simple and direct, said Mr. Edmondo Boscoscuro, Sales Manager of NTV. The name of the train is easy to pronounce and already popular worldwide, where it is referred to as the “Ferrari train.” Another symbol which recalls the Ferrari car is the rampant rabbit, which occurs in the sleek design of the interiors styled by celebrated design house, Italdesign Giuguaro.
Trade, international market, inter-modality
The marketing objectives of Italo aim at a strong collaboration with the travel trade, which has been mistreated by the monopolist, FS, until Italo NTV appeared on the market. Italo set out with an agreed commission plan of surgical precision. It included agreements with tour operators incoming from foreign markets, e.g., Great Britain, Germany, the USA, China, and Brazil. Italo is strong on the main North-South lines, but at present, it is missing Venice. It also places great emphasis on inter-modality, which means trips can be booked through the Italian GDS Galileo, with Travelport Smartpoint, at present with two separate transactions for train and other products. Soon available will be a block of tickets and subscriptions for frequent travelers, said Boscoscuro.
France’s national rail company, SNCF, owns a 20 percent stake in NTV, which is led by a group of Italian businessmen, including the Ferrari head, Luca di Montezemolo, NTV President, and Diego della Valle, the head of luxury shoemaker Tod’s.
For more information, go to: www.italotreno.it .