Passenger rail leads the industryFrom 2016 to 2019, the annual volume of rail passengers in Italy has grown steadily following the arrival of a new privately owned competitor in the market in 2012: Italo S.p.A. Italy’s passenger rail landscape has thereafter been dominated by two passenger rail operators: Trenitalia – with a market share of just under three-quarters in 2018 – and the aforementioned Italo. The Ferrovie dello Stato Group, state-owned parent company of Trenitalia, was third amongst the leading European passenger rail operators, transporting over 43,600 passenger-kilometers in 2019. The nation is furthermore home to the fourth-largest high-speed rail network in Europe after Spain, France, and Germany. At the forefront of railway technology, Italy also boasts two of the world’s fastest high-speed trains: the Frecciarossa 1000 and Italo’s AGV.
Slump in the freight sectorWith a forecasted revenue of over 498 million U.S. dollars, Italian railway freight trailed behind its passenger rail transport. Four of Europe’s eleven major rail freight corridors (RFCs) run through Italy: Rhine–Alpine (RFC 1), Scandinavian–Mediterranean (RFC 3), Baltic–Adriatic (RFC 5), and Mediterranean (RFC 6). The share of inland freight transported in Italy is, as has been the case over the last decade, dominated by road transport, with rail freight representing under one-quarter of all freight goods transported nationwide. Over the past few years, Italy had seen a significant increase in its yearly volume of goods transported by rail, albeit with some fluctuations. A drop of 2.87 million metric tons had been recorded in the railway freight volume in transit in Italy between 2018 and 2019.
Pandemic stifles demandPrior to the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for rail travel over air or road travel was steadily increasing in Italy. For example, the Ferrovie dello Stato Group recorded its best-ever operating revenue level in the 2019 financial year. However, Italy’s rail services and passenger rail activity were heavily reduced by the Covid-19 outbreak in northern Italy. Overall, the sector is projected to record a drop of half its 2019 revenues in 2020 due in part to national lockdowns. Rail freight services in Italy also declined: The estimated loss of revenue for the entire rail freight sector between March and the end of June 2020 is 150 million euros. Furthermore, the sector is expected to incur extra costs of around 20 million euros for personal protective equipment and disinfectant in this same time frame.
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