Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ferrari and Network Rail

The connection is the AGV (automotrice à grande vitesse), the train which is a development of the TGV which has cut journey times across Europe. During 2009 it will be introduced on the Italian rail network as part of the approval process for delivering trainsets ordered by NTV. The November edition of Railwatch, the magazine of Railfuture, announces that they will run on the Turin-Milan-Naples-Salerno, Rome-Bologna-Venice and Rome-Naples-Bari routes. The new Italian Transport Company has placed a firm order for 25 trainsets (with ten on option), together with a thirty-year maintenance contract. Delivery of the first production trains will commence in 2010.

One of the businessmen behind NTV is Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who is chairman of Ferrari. He may have one operation the less to worry about next year, if the company carries out its threat to quit Formula One.

France's SNCF has taken a 20% share in NTV, no doubt looking forward to the liberalisation of international rail routes within the EU in 2010.

A committee of Scotland's parliament is looking into the possibility of high speed rail (HSR). Several pressure groups have already presented evidence of the benefits to Scotland's economy of a HSR line from London.

And in England and Wales? A government grant of £26.7bn to Network Rail, (8% less than requested), is largely going towards capacity improvements on existing routes. To my eyes, this is going to benefit short- to medium-distance commuters, rather than the long-distance freight and business passenger services which we should be developing for this century. Yes, it would be good to increase throughput at Cardiff Central* and take hundreds more cars off the road, but a fast link to Paris, Brussels and beyond would do more for Wales' national income.

*or an integrated transport (bus/train/taxi) and shopping hub in Port Talbot - but that's too much to hope for!

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