Italy’s first ‘Covid-free’ trains start running on Rome-Milan route

Italy's first 'Covid-free' trains start running on Rome-Milan route
Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Italy's state-run railway on Friday began operating the first "Covid-free" high-speed trains between Rome and Milan.

The first of the special train services left Rome for Milan on Friday morning at 8:50am, with another service scheduled at 6pm.

A negative test result is required for passengers and staff to board the non-stop Frecciarossa service on Italy’s busiest route.

The test result certificate must be shown with tickets before boarding, and must be from within the 48 hours before travel, operator Trenitalia said. Tests can also be taken immediately before departure in screening areas at either Roma Termini or Milano Centrale station.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s ‘Covid-free islands’ vaccine plan hopes to save summer travel

Anyone who tests positive will not be allowed to board, but will get a complete refund, the operator said.

Two trains will run in each direction per day during this initial “experimental” phase.

Announcing the scheme in March, Italian railways chief Gianfranco Battisti said the initiative would later be extended to other routes, and would allow people to “travel in total safety to tourist destinations such as Florence, Venice, Naples and many others.”

There are plans to soon install pre-trip Covid screening areas at Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Florence Santa Maria Novella , Naples Centrale, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Turin Porta Nuova and Venice Mestre train stations, Italian media reports.

Photo by Tiziana FABI/AFP.

The service is among a string of initiatives in Italy aimed at allowing tourism to restart.

All residents of Italian holiday islands are to be vaccinated as a priority under a controversial new scheme to support tourism, Italian media reported on Monday.

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

While some travel restrictions still apply, US passengers are allowed to avoid spending 14 days in isolation if they travel on special flights from New York or Atlanta to Rome.

READ ALSO: Italy hopes to expand ‘Covid-tested’ flights to more countries

Before the pandemic struck, tourism accounted for 14 percent of Italy’s economy.

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 currently prohibited from travelling between regions or towns for non-essential reasons, making even domestic tourism impossible.


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