High-speed line for freight: not just fast, also on time

Image: Mercitalia Fast

After almost five months of service the Mercitalia Fast can be considered a success. The first-high-speed freight train of the world achieved a 96 per cent punctuality, with the remaining 4 per cent delayed by less than half an hour. Moreover, there were no reported damages or cases of theft.

Operator of the train Mercitalia will provide a workshop about the high-speed train service of Italy on 27 March at the Freight & Terminal Forum. Francesco Cacciapuoti will explain how passenger coaches were transformed to carry freight, what needed to be done in the terminals receiving the train and how the company made the best use of the high-speed tracks, which are also used by passenger trains.


The world’s first high-speed railway service become operative on 7 November 2018. It connects the terminal of Maddaloni-Marcianise in Caserta, the natural logistic gateway to Southern Italy, with the Bologna Interport, one of the most important logistics hubs in Northern Italy.

The train runs from Monday to Friday in three hours and thirty minutes. This frequency is likely to be increased to two daily services in the near future, said Mercitalia, the freight arm of Italian State Railways (FS). Moreover, the company is looking at an extension of the service from Bologna to Foggia in the east. The current fleet would be extended with more wagons. Currently the fleet counts 12 coaches.

Shift to rail

The train moves at an average speed of 180 kmph. The ETR 500 train has a load capacity equivalent to 18 tractor-trailers. The 480 trains that are operated per year take off the road 8,600 over this period. This accounts for a 80 per cent reduction of CO2, the company explains.

Traditionally, high-speed railway is dedicated to passenger services. High-speed lines usually link major city centres, which are typically not the destinations for freight activities. However, express delivery of goods is increasingly in demand with the current e-commerce boom, Mercitalia argued. It plans to extend the service to Italian cities such as Turin, Novara, Milan, Brescia, Verona, Padua, Rome and Bari.


Are you interested in this workshop or would you like to join the discussion? Registration is free of charge. You must first register for the Freight & Terminal Forum, Expo only. Then, you visit the workshop programme and select the workshop of your choice.

Date: 27 March 2019
Time: 10:15 – 11:00

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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