December 11, 2008 / 1:31 PM / 9 years ago

High-speed train to cut Rome-Milan travel time

ROME, Dec 11 (Reuters) - A high-speed train service between Rome and Milan will cut travel time by 25 percent to three hours next year, allowing it to steal airline passengers on the busy route, the head of Italy’s state railways said on Thursday.

The railways aims to corner 60 percent of the market for travel by any method over the route over the next two years, Ferrovie dello Stato CEO Mauro Moretti told Italian television.

The quicker train service comes as a group of Italian businessmen embark on an ambitious project to relaunch bankrupt national airline Alitalia AZPIa.MI, whose main attraction is its dominance of the Rome-Milan air route.

Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) and Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) are battling for an alliance with Alitalia partly because of its grip on the key route.

    Moretti denied the faster train service would hamper Alitalia — whose relaunch has been played up by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government as a patriotic cause — but would steal flight passengers in general. (Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by David Holmes)

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