Fiat Chief Turns To Trains

By Guest Contributor


One of Europe’s most recognizable industrialists, Ferrari and Fiat Chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, is set to build what could be Europe’s first wholly private, high-speed train-service by 2010 end.

Called NTV – the trains will become the next chapter in the diverse career of Mr. Montezemolo, once named by a Japanese magazine, the world’s most elegant man. He has close ties to the Agnellis, the founders of Fiat, and is chairman of Confindustria, the main Italian employers’ body, until May of this year.

He has portrayed his activities as being at the service of the public and like Sir Richard Branson in the UK, another populist businessman, he is determined to have the Italian trains become more efficient.

Mr. Montezemolo’s partners include Diego Della Valle, the founder of fashion company Tod’s, industrialist Gianni Punzo and Giuseppe Sciarrone, former head of passenger services with the state-owned Trenitalia operator. As of 2000, Mr. Sciarrone has been the chief executive of Rail Traction Company, Italy’s successful private rail freight operator.

In addition to NTV, another private passenger service, Rail One, is also being put together for 2010 by Carlo Toto, the man behind Air One, the Italian airline bidding to acquire Alitalia.

The two Italian companies will be Europe’s first wholly private operators of high-speed trains – the UK arm of the cross-Channel Eurostar service linking Paris and Brussels with London – has private shareholders but the operation is still dominated by France’s state-owned train operator, SNCF.

The new systems will be taking advantage of domestic Italian legislation which is opening up the country’s dedicated high- speed routes between the largest cities to competitors to Trenitalia, the monopoly operator of nearly all of the country’s passenger services.

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