Railway Performance Society Magazine - Milepost

Italians set national rail speed record (in tunnel) of 362km/h (224.8mph)

Italian Railways claimsits ETR500 Y1 test trainset a national new 'indoor' world rail speed for trains in tunnels of 362km/h (224.8mph) on February 3rd 2009 on the soon the new Florence to Bologna high-speed line. The speed was achieved atKM point 26,149 within the Morticine rail tunnel. It was thought that this was a new world rail speed record in tunnel, but research has since revealed that the German ICE achieved a speed of 406km/h in a rail tunnel in 1998.

The new record eclipses the former Italian rail speed record of 355km/h (220.5mph), and is 16mph faster than the British rail speed record of 208mph set by Eurostar in July 2003. However, the Italians still have some way to go before they can challenge the current world rail speed record of 574.8km/h (357.16mph) set by the French TGV in April 2007.

The Florence to Bologna section of high-speed line has been designed for 300km/h running. However,sources in Italy say that the trains will run at a commercial speed of 250km/h when services commence over the new line in December 2009 -apparently due to EU directives concerning train speeds in tunnel. The new line - excluding connections to existing main lines at either end - is 78km (48.4miles) long - of which 73km (45.3miles) are in tunnel. The new linewill halve journey times betweenFlorence and Bologna from 1 hour to30 minutes. Journey times from Milan to Rome (approx 340 miles) will fall by 30 minutes to 3hrs. Milan to Naples (approx 480 miles) will take around 4 hrs at an average speed fo 120mph.

The Florence to Bolognahigh-speed line forms an important link in the Italian high-speed rail network, which runs from Turin and Milan in the North to Rome and Naples in the South. In December last year, the Italians celebrated the opening of their Milan - Bologna high-speed line which cut journey times between the two cities by 45 minutes to 1 hour. Lines already open include:

Other high-speed lines due to open in December 2009 include:

Furthermore, the original Direttissimma route between Florence and Rome isplanned to be upgraded to 300km/h running by December 2009, which will involve converting part of the route from 3kv to 25kvAC power supplies - which will reduce journey times by a further 10 minutes. The Italians claim that this route - sections of whichopened in 1977 - was the first high-speed line in Europe based on a definition that high-speed means speeds of 250km/h and above. Today, most trains take around 1hr 35mins to complete the 162.2 mile journey between Florence and Rome - an average speed of 103.5mph.

Lines planned for future construction include are Milan to Venice and Milan to Genoa.

Trains to run along the route are:

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