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

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.

Italy to run 'Covid-free' trains on Rome-Milan route
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

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.


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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”