Italo's sleek red trains will regularly serve Genoa on Italy's Ligurian coast from mid-December 2021 (photo © Eq Roy / dreamstime.com).
Genoa is something of a backwater when it comes to European high-speed rail. Among Italy’s seven largest mainland cities, Genoa is the only one not on Italy’s high-speed rail network. Naturally, this ruffles feathers in the Ligurian port, which has a population of over half a million.
In pre-pandemic times, Genoa’s main railway station at Piazza Principe boasted some exotica on its departure boards. Thello offered direct trains to Monte Carlo and Marseille, while RZD Russian Railways offered a weekly train to Moscow – always the train of choice for discerning passengers wanting to ride north from Genoa to Milan.
The trains to France and Russia were axed at the start of the pandemic, so these days Genoa has just one international departure. That’s the 14.10 to Zürich, which runs via Lugano and the Gotthard Base Tunnel. With the timetable change this coming weekend (on Sunday 12 December), the departure time of that Swiss-bound train is nudged back by a couple of hours, giving a commensurately later arrival in Zürich.
That’s not the only change in Genoa’s schedules from Sunday, for from that day Italy’s entrepreneurial private operator NTV Italo will also be showing its colours in the city.
Italo has been first and foremost an operator for high-speed routes, focusing on the main north-south axis from Piedmont, Lombardy and the Veneto down to Rome and Naples. No longer! Italo has been developing its network over the last couple of years, introducing new routes to places well-removed from the country’s high-speed network. Italo’s sleek red trains now regularly venture to Trieste, Bari and Reggio di Calabria. And now it’s Genoa’s turn.
At 06.14 on Sunday morning, Italo’s debut departure will leave Genoa’s Piazza Principe station bound for Naples. Curiously, it will initially run in completely the wrong direction, heading north to Milan and then continuing via Bologna, Florence and Rome to Naples, where arrival is at 12.53. The return journey leaves Napoli Centrale at 16.20, reaching Genoa at 23.09.
The new service will run daily in both directions, with the trains offering Italo’s regular range of three travel classes (which Italo affects to call ambiences rather than classes), viz Smart, Prima and Club Executive.
Italy’s national operator Trenitalia also has very posh high-speed trains, and the company has latterly served Genoa with a once-daily Frecciarossa 1000 service to Venice via Milan and Verona. That train currently leaves Genoa just after seven every morning, returning in the afternoon from Venice to reach Genoa at 19.55.
Curiously, that train is downgraded from a Frecciarossa 1000 to a Frecciargento with the timetable change on Sunday. NTV Italo are surely smiling about that, happy that their new train to Naples is now the premium domestic service of the day from Genoa. Our guess is that it won’t be long before Trenitalia reinstate at least one daily Frecciarossa to Genoa, just to show they are not neglecting the Ligurian city.