Trains are a key mode of transportation in Italy. During the pandemic, many people who rode on a train for one reason or other knew that there was a risk involved. As required in most closed places, masks are required on all trains, which have been operating at 50% capacity. This month, the primary train operator in the country announced that it will start testing ‘Covid-free’ rides next month. The idea is that all passengers and staff will be tested before boarding.
It will be a unique opportunity, which will allow people to visit destinations such as Venice and FlorenceFerrovie dello Stato Italiane CEO Gianfranco Battisti
According to Travel + Leisure, passengers will need to arrive at the station an hour ahead of departure for on-site testing, which will be handled by the Red Cross and Italian Civil Protection. The first services to operate with this modality are the high speed Freece trains, with an expected launch date at the beginning of April. The Frecce trains also have seat assignments that must be adhered to.
“We have chosen the Rome to Milan route for the initial testing phase,” Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane CEO Gianfranco Battisti said. “We will later implement this for tourist destinations for the summer. It will be a unique opportunity, which will allow people to visit destinations such as Venice and Florence.”
The idea of a Covid-free journey is not new. It has been offered by airlines such as Delta-KLM on their flights Atlanta-Amsterdam and Atlanta-Rome. The same concept was put forward on cruises, like the Odyssey of the Seas, scheduled to depart from Israel in May.
As part of Italy’s vaccination rollout, Roma Termini has also become the country’s first major railway hub to serve as a vaccination point. At full capacity, about 1,500 vaccinations can be issued per day. The vaccination point, arising from FS Italiane Group’s collaboration with the Lazio Region and the Italian Red Cross, extends around 1,900 square meters outside the railway station, in a section of the parking area in Piazza dei Cinquecento.
Composed of three mobile tents set up in the piazza in front of the station (taking up some 800 square metres), the structure is intended to be used for the various phases of reception, medical history, vaccination and waiting post-vaccine. With 21 vaccine stations, two are dedicated to people with disabilities. Outside, the Italian Red Cross has an emergency healthcare outpost with an ambulance at the ready.
FS Italiane has made available the area owned by FS Sistemi Urbani and, together with Grandi Stazioni Rail, has provided all of the logistical support – the electricity line and supply, water connections, signage and road works, along with the lighting, surveillance and cleaning services for the area.
In addition, the FS Group will make available to the Italian Red Cross additional spaces to set up tent structures to conduct screening activities for people in the stations of Roma Termini, Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Milano Centrale, Napoli Centrale, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Torino Porta Nuova and Venezia Mestre. Once up and running at full speed, the initiative will allow up to 540,000 free antigenic tests to be conducted in six months all throughout Italy.
Trenitalia also launched a healthcare train that can both treat patients on board and transport them to hospitals with more capacity. The healthcare train is a convoy that facilitates the transfer and treatment of patients with dedicated healthcare personnel in the carriages fitted out with specific medical equipment.
The convoy, which will be used to serve Italy following emergencies and disasters, was produced by Trenitalia (FS Italiane Group) in the Periodic Maintenance Workshops of Voghera in collaboration with the Civil Protection Department and the Agenzia Regionale Emergenza Urgenza della Lombardia (AREU, being Lombardy’s Regional Emergency Agency).
The train can serve to transport patients to other areas of Italy or abroad in order to relieve pressure on local hospital facilities, as well as presenting a means of integrating with the Italian healthcare service to manage emergencies, whereby used as an Advanced Medical Post.
The convoy has been designed to offer a level of healthcare up to intensive care, even with biocontainment, with the possibility of integrating other carriages with additional medical-healthcare functions. Each of the three healthcare carriages can host up to seven patients, totaling 21 available places. These carriages are managed by specialized healthcare, technical-logistics and management personnel, with up to 45 operators.