Italy rail privatization may be pushed back

The head of Italy's national rail operator said on Thursday the Ferrovia dello Stato's privatization would not necessarily take place in 2016, as previously announced, but when the company is ready.

Italy rail privatization may be pushed back
Italy's rail network would be partly privatized "when the company is ready". Photo: Beppus

The government had indicated the privatization of up to 40 percent of the group would take place next year as part of a drive aimed at helping pay down its debt, which stands at €2.2 trillion.

Italy's postal service was successfully listed in October in the first of a series set to include the privatization of air traffic controller Enav.

But Ferrovia dello Stato CEO Renato Mazzoncini, who took up his post on Tuesday, said the railway would only be listed “when we're ready”, insisting rushing the sale would be folly because “the stock market does not forgive”.

The group recorded a net profit of €292 million ($317 million) in the first half of 2015, up 2.5 percent from the same period last year, with an operating profit of some €948 million, up 0.7 percent.

The company, which marked a €8.4 billion turnover last year, employs more than 69,000 people.

Supporters say the privatization will improve Italy's slow and shabby regional rail services, which lag far behind its sleek and more lucrative high-speed railways.

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Italy quashes crash conviction for ex-rail boss

Italy's highest court on Friday quashed the manslaughter conviction of the former head of the Italian railways over a freight train disaster that killed 32 people in 2009.

Italy quashes crash conviction for ex-rail boss
People watch the site where two gas-filled rail tankers exploded after derailing overnight on June 30, 2009 in the seaside resort of Viareggio, northern Italy. Photo: STR/AFP
It sent the case back to the appeals court, ordering new trials for rail chief Mauro Moretti and another top executive, Michele Mario Elia.
A freight train carrying liquid petroleum gas derailed and exploded on June 29, 2009, while transiting through the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio.
The force of the blast brought down two small blocks of flats where many of the victims lived, in Italy's deadliest rail accident in more than 30 years.
Rail chief Mauro Moretti, former chief executive of the defence group Leonardo, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2017. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP
Moretti, a former boss of defence group Leonardo, was sentenced in 2017 to seven years for manslaughter and causing multiple injuries.
Elia was originally jailed for seven years and six months, although this was reduced at appeal to six years.
The court on Friday ruled the manslaughter charges had now lapsed under the statute of limitations and the new trial would only focus on allegations of negligence.
Moretti was held partly responsible for poor infrastructure and risk-avoidance systems which were deemed to have contributed to the derailing.   
He was tried with around 30 other defendants, including several other state-owned railway executives.