So what’s the big deal about high-speed rail networks in Europe and at home? Rail Europe brings to you the first in a series of interviews from CEOs of high-speed trains for an inside scoop. We’re featuring their inspirational words on our blog about every two weeks for the next several months. At the end of each post, we’ll ask a trivia question and you’ll have 24 hours to answer in our blog comments. From all correct answers, one winner will be selected to receive two complimentary rail tickets on the featured rail company’s high-speed network – up to a $599 value High-Speed Trivia Sweepstakes. See how fast can you answer!
Read on for the first of our new series: CEO Giuseppe Sciarrone on the newest high-speed trains in Europe, Italo
How did your railway undertaking get started?
NTV was created in December 2006 by a group of Italian entrepreneurs. The founders and main shareholders are Luca di Montezemolo, who is also the President of Ferrari, the ultra-famous Italian sports car maker, Diego Della Valle, owner of luxury brand Tod’s, and Gianni Punzo, a businessman who created in Nola, close to Naples, the Cis, one of Europe’s largest logistic centers. Along with being the CEO of the company, I’m also a founding partner and a shareholder of NTV.
The story I’d like to tell is the one that took place on the 28th of April 2012, when our first train, named Italo, left the Naples station at 7am sharp with passengers on board heading to Milan. That’s a day I will never forget. A day that summarizes and crowns these 5 years of efforts and adventures. I perfectly remember the emotion of that moment because I felt we had accomplished an important goal in our mission. I believe that that day marked a turning point in the history of Italian transportation too, because it marked the end of the era of public monopoly in the railway sector and the beginning of an era of competition, in which travelers can choose. Since then over 4 million people have traveled on our Italo trains, and these results make us incredibly proud.
Where do you see the future of your railway 10 years from now?
I’m confident NTV will be an important reality in the landscape of European railways. We’ll still be operating in the high-speed market, but I’m sure that in a few years we will be able to move into the challenging market of regional transportation too. This is one of our main battles. We’ve been asking the Italian Government and the Regions to finally open up this sector which is still a closed monopoly. Thanks to competition, the Italian HS service is one of the best in the world, where as regional commuters are too often obliged to travel in poor conditions. I’m convinced that only the positive stimulus of competition can enhance the quality of the service and we’re ready and willing to do our part if the Regions will decide to abandon the monopoly system and assign service through tenders.
What can you say to convince Americans, Canadians, Mexicans to take a ride on one of your trains?
To our overseas friends, I’d like to say that Italy is the most beautiful country in the world. To choose to travel across it on board of an Italo train, means to do it in a unique way.Like a journey inside the journey. Italo is the most modern train in Europe: built with cutting edge technology, it provides reclining leather seats, multimedia interactive contents and live TV on the on board Portal, plus an innovative Cinema Coach and free Wi Fi for all passengers.All this put together with a touch of unmistakable Italian style. But I’m confident that the real surprise won’t be the technology, but he ‘human factor’: our young and smiling staff. And, by the way, they’re all fluent in English.