Last Friday, commuters at Rome’s Tiburtina station witnessed the maiden voyage of the “Italo,” a joint effort from French rail company SNCF and NTV (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori — literally “New Passenger Transport”) — a company founded by Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo. The train, which can reach speeds of 350 kilometers per hour and seats up to 450 passengers, is an attempt at bringing the classic “Ferrari thrill” to the normally staid, dull world of traveling by train. Though an economical, efficient and environmentally responsible way of getting from Point A to Point B, no one can claim that the massive rail-based behemoths are sexy, and Ferrari intends to change that.
Yet sex appeal is not the only selling point for the Italo. According to Treehugger, the sleek, crimson train is outfitted with a wealth of amenities designed make high-speed trips on the thing as comfortable as they might be on a far less attractive machine. The Italo’s leather seats feature “personal media centers, power supplies, and tunnel-proof wireless internet” and a a ticket to ride from Rome to Milan (a 360 mile trip that takes roughly two hours) will only set you back about $60. More luxurious accommodations are available, though even renting a full-sized “four-seat semi-private salon car,” will only cost $480.
More crucially however, the Italo also features a host of environmental and technological advantages over older trains. “The high speed trains, based on the Alstom AGV technology, boast 98% recycled content in their construction,” Treehugger reports. “Weighing 10 percent less than similar high speed trains will reduce energy demand 15 percent, saving 650,000 kWh on 500,000km of annual travel. Nonetheless, the Italo is the first very high speed train to meet European safety standards, protecting passenger safety in case of a train crash.”
The train is scheduled to enter full service on April 28, ferrying passengers between Naples, Rome, Florence, Bologne and Milan, Italy. Its service route will then be expanded at an as yet undetermined date later this year. There is currently no word on whether the Italo will see service outside of Italy, though if successful it seems likely that the vehicle could also see stops in other European countries whose citizens are apt to use train travel instead of shelling out for the ludicrous cost of gas every time they feel like paying a visit to far-away relatives.
As for an American release, we aren’t holding our collective breath. US citizens are far less likely to embrace train travel, even as our gas prices skyrocket, regardless of how sexy the train might be. Then again, the Ferrari aura has attracted an intensely devoted group of followers over the past half-century, and all those people who once adorned their bedrooms with just as many images of Ferrari’s sleek cars during their teenage years as pictures of scantily-clad ladies might just see a trip aboard the Italo as a cost-effective way to achieve the sort of name-brand sex-appeal-by-proxy as actually owning a Cherry Red Ferrari 458. It’s certainly a lot more appealing than anything currently taking up space in Amtrak’s fleet.
(Article has been edited to correct typographical errors.)