Italian high-speed trains may link Milan and Ljubljana in 2024
Italian and Slovenian rail operators are running test rides involving a Frecciarossa high-speed train between Venice and Sežana, a town in southwestern Slovenia, in an effort to launch a regular cross-border service between Milan and Ljubljana.
Several Italian rail news portals as well as Euronews Travel have reported that the Italian high-speed train left the Venice Mestre station on 11 December to run to Villa Opicina, a village near the border with Slovenia, where the team of the Italian national train operator was joined by Slovenian Railways staff.
The Slovenian Railways confirmed the news about the test rides and the upcoming Frecciarossa service. "In the initial phase, we plan to introduce one pair of trains on the Milan-Ljubljana and Ljubljana-Milan routes," the Slovenian national rail operator said.
The direct service will include other stops, both in Slovenia and Italy. Passengers will be able to board or leave the train in Postojna, Divača and Sežana, Slovenian towns that Italians like to visit, as well as Trieste, Venice, Padua, Verona and other stops all the way to Milan.
The portals report that for now, the ETR 700 train is to be the only one of the Frecciarossa fleet to be equipped with ERTMS/ETCS, a European signalling and train control system that is expected to gradually replace the various national systems and allow the common standardisation of rail transport in the EU.
In Slovenia, the system has already been widely implemented.
"The time seems ripe for a resumption of a cross-border service between the two countries," the portal Euronews Travel quotes representatives of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, Italy's national state-owned railway holding company.
Currently, there is no direct rail link between Slovenia and Italy beyond Villa Opicina, where passengers must change trains to continue their journey in Italy. The last time there was one was five years ago under a European co-funded project. It linked Slovenia with Trieste and Udine.
Hopeful to launch the new service as soon as possible, Slovenian Railways say it is too early at the moment to say when the first Milan-Ljubljana trains will start running.
According to the Italian media reports, the service could be launched as early as 1 April 2024.
The new connection will reportedly introduce Eurocity 137, a train leaving Milan just after 3pm and arriving in Ljubljana a little bit after 10pm, and Eurocity 136, which would leave Ljubljana just before 7am and arrive in Milan around 2pm.
Trenitalia, a subsidiary of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, launched Frecciarossa trains in 2008. Being able to reach a maximum speed of 300 km/h, they link major Italian cities.