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Italy to expand new direct Rome-Pompeii train link

The Local Italy
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Italy to expand new direct Rome-Pompeii train link
A FrecciaRossa high-speed train stationed at Rome's central Termini station. Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

A new direct rail service between central Rome and the Pompeii archaeological site will run four times a month instead of once due to popular demand, the culture ministry has announced.

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The first ever direct rail link between Rome’s central Termini station and the world-famous Pompeii ruins was initially scheduled to run on every third Sunday of the month.

But, just two days after the new route’s inauguration on July 16th, Italy’s culture ministry announced that the direct train would be operative every Sunday starting from August 6th.

The announcement came after the service “enjoyed great interest from the public and positive feedback from customers”, the ministry said via a press release on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: What you should know about Italy's new Rome-Pompeii direct train

The rail link has so far received high praise from government figures, with PM Giorgia Meloni citing it as evidence that “Italy takes care of its heritage”.

But the culture ministry’s original decision to have the direct route operate only once a month had attracted widespread criticism ahead of the inauguration, with many saying that the scale of the project had been overblown.

National newspaper Repubblica referred to the service as “little more than a publicity stunt”, while news website Open called it an “excess of enthusiasm”.

Pompeii, Naples

A general view of the popular Pompeii archaeological site, near Naples. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

First announced in April, the new service is, in the words of culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, part of a plan to “enhance [Pompeii’s] accessibility” and boost tourism to the area by making the journey to and from Rome faster and more comfortable.

The direct route is currently expected to be 15 to 30 minutes faster than the available non-direct options, which involve changing trains in Naples or Salerno.

The direct service will also reportedly allow passengers to buy entrance tickets to Pompeii on board. 

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The Pompeii ruins are considered one of the world’s most valuable archaeological sites, but they have long seen smaller visitor numbers than other popular Italian attractions such as the Colosseum and Florence’s Uffizi.

Recent plans to increase tourism in the area however have raised long-lived concerns that the site – which has been historically vulnerable to material damage, not least because of lack of maintenance – may be ‘worn out’ by a steep rise in visitors. 

In fact, only a few years ago local authorities urged tourists to change their itineraries and check out lesser-known archaeological sites as Pompeii failed to cope with large numbers of visitors. 

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