Italy’s first private high-speed train, launched by Ferrari head Luca di Montezemolo’s company NTV and boasting sleek interiors and a cinema carriage, made its inaugural journey on Friday. The dark-red 200-meter (656 foot) bullet-shaped train — named “Italo” — set out from Rome’s Termini station, taking just over an hour to reach Naples. “Italo has arrived, the competition has kicked off… bringing real advantages to all those who travel,” NTV told its first passengers as they admired interiors styled by celebrated design house Italdesign Giugiaro. The trains have gold edging, panoramic windows, leather seats and wider carriages than the classic French TGV trains. They offer three different coach classes and travel at a top speed of 360 kilometers (224 miles) per hour.
France’s national rail company SNCF owns a 20-percent stake in NTV, which is led by a group of Italian businessmen including Montezemolo, NTV’s president, and Diego Della Valle, the head of luxury shoemaker Tod’s. The company hopes to take a bite out of the national state rail network’s market and gain an advantage with a pricing system where passengers can get cut-price tickets by booking early or traveling at off-peak times. “All our employees speak English as well as Italian, and each station we transit through will have an ‘Italo House’ for passengers wanting information or a rest,” Giuseppe Bonollo, NTV commercial director, told AFP.