Italy and Slovenia have tested the route for a proposed new high-speed train link between the two countries. Italian train operator Trenitalia sent a high-speed Frecciarossa train from Mestre in Venice, bearing north to Portogruaro, Monfalcone and Bivio Aurisina. At the northeastern station of Villa Opicina near Trieste, the train was boarded by Slovenian railway staff and made its way on to Sesana, about 80 km southwest of Ljubljana
A seven-hour trip?
While the Venice-Ljubljana test run stopped 80 km short of Ljubljana this time, the eventual route could run all the way from Milan to the Slovenian capital. Rail commentator The Man in Seat 61, has suggested the journey could take approximately seven hours, with daily departures, for example, timetabled from Milan Centrale 3:15 pm and arriving in Ljubljana at just after 10:00 pm, or in the other direction leaving Ljubljana at 6:55 am and getting to Milan at 1:45 pm.
Seven hours may be more than double the current flight time between the cities, but “the time seems to be ripe for the restoration of a cross-border service between the two countries,” FS Italiane the Italian umbrella train group have said. An international train used to operate between the countries but was discontinued in 2008. It could be reinstated by as soon as the end of next year (2024).
Credible alternative to more polluting modes
Discussions about the launch of a new international rail link have been under way since 2021, when the two countries became signatories to a European rail pact, hailed as a “first victory for European rail”. The two countries promised “to be a credible alternative to more polluting modes of transport” committing to improve the customer experience “from reservations to real-time passenger information thanks to digital technology, as well as for international rail services, including night trains”.
33 rail stakeholders from 24 European countries signed the undertaking which committed them to “increase the share of rail in transport and thus contribute significantly to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.”
Making Slovenia’s rich cultural and natural heritage reachable without flying for Italian travellers, including the glorious scenery of Lake Bled and the Triglav National Park, as well as the capital city, the train link would conversely bring Slovenians to Venice’s waterways and squares as well as onward towards Italy’s lively fashion capital and home to Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic representation of the Last Supper.
Sleek and elegant Frecciarossa trains
Millions of passengers travel on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa trains every month. 94 daily connections are available between Milan and Rome as well as 68 daily connections between Milan and Naples, a route in daily operation since December 2021.
The flagship Frecciarossa stock is part of Italy’s high-speed rail offer, reaching speeds of up to 300 km/hour and boasting environmental certification (EPD), restaurant cars and “elegant”, “sleek” travel.