Italy to run ‘Covid-free’ trains on Rome-Milan route

Italy to run 'Covid-free' trains on Rome-Milan route
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Italy's state-run railways will operate "Covid-free" high-speed trains on the Rome-Milan route starting next month, its chief executive said Monday.

Gianfranco Battisti hailed the initiative as a way of reviving travel after more than a year of coronavirus curbs.

“We will introduce a Covid-free train in early April … initially between Rome and Milan,” Battisti said during an event at Rome’s main train station.

It will be a European first, according to his company, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (Italy’s state railway operator, which runs Trenitalia and the Frecce high-speed trains).

All staff and passengers will be tested for coronavirus before boarding “with the help of the Red Cross”, he said.

(L-R) CEO of the Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, Gianfranco Battisti, Health Minister Roberto Speranza and Head of Civil Protection Fabrizio Curcio at a press conference at Rome’s Termini station on March 8th. Photo by Tiziana FABI/AFP.

After the Rome-Milan route, Italy’s busiest, “we will adopt this solution especially for tourist destinations” like Venice, Florence and Naples, he added.

Italian airline Alitalia last year launched Covid-tested flights on selected domestic and international flights.

US passengers are allowed to avoid 14 days in isolation if they travel on special flights from New York or Atlanta to Rome.

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Before the pandemic struck, tourism accounted for 14 per cent of Italy’s economy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi told parliament last month.

Lockdowns and other coronavirus restrictions have had a devastating impact on the industry, with hotels and restaurants forced to shut for months.

Overnight stays by foreign tourists were down by almost 70 per cent, year-on-year, in January-September 2020, according to official data released in December.

Under current restrictions, people living in Italy are also currently prohibited from travelling between regions or towns for non-essential reasons, making even domestic tourism impossible.

Rome’s Termini railway station on March 8th. Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP.

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