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Greetings from Rome!

November 05, 2018

Our 2018 Rail Study Tour of Italy is off to a great start. Here's a quick overview of what we've done so far, with more updates to come later in the week.

Our group convened in Rome on Saturday to get settled into the hotel and dive into what promises to be an exciting week. Coming from Rome's Fiumicino Airport station, which opened in 1990, there are two train options to to get to the city. One of them is a local train, which takes about 47 min with several intermediate stops, ending at Rome’s Tiburtina station. The express option, which takes about 31 min, makes no stops and heads directly to Rome’s Termini station (pictured right), which is near our hotel. You can also catch high-speed trains to Venice from this station. Check out this video for more details on train service from the airport.

Rome’s Termini station is the second largest train station in Europe. Both lines A and B of the Metro have stops there as well as several bus lines. The station has both domestic and international rail service, including regional and suburban lines, as well as the airport express service. It has three floors, with shops and restaurants on each one. Built in 1867, the station has been remodeled several times, leaving it is a combination of many architectural styles. Take a look at this timeline to see how the station has evolved over the years.

On Sunday we got our first taste of Rome’s public transit system, using both streetcars and the metro to get around the city to sight-see. ATAC is in charge of operations for the tramway, metro, bus, and urban railways, which travel to the Rome’s outskirts and other nearby cities such as Lido, Viterbo, and Giardinetti.

Trams have been in operation since the 1800’s when they were pulled by horses. After WWII, service was severely diminished, but it has since made a few expansions and at least one new line is in the works. The metro has three lines, the newest of which, Line C, is a driverless subway that was built in 2014. Being a city so rich in history, construction of this system comes with special challenges. Take a look at this video for some insight on these challenges and more details regarding the new line.

Today we met with representatives from FS Italiane, which is the group that is in charge of running the railways in Italy. Italy’s railway network is extensive, and the different lines are classified by their level of use. Fundamental lines have high levels of traffic, and are built with high-quality infrastructure to accommodate this. Complementary lines have lower traffic levels and are used to link regions between the fundamental lines. Nodes represent the connections between fundamental and complementary lines that occur around large metropolitan areas. FS Italiane provided us with an extremely informative presentation that highlighted all of the exciting work they're doing to expand and improve Italy's rail system.

Tomorrow we head to Florence for our first high-speed leg of the trip, and from there the group will head to Bologna. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates as the trip progresses!