The opening ceremony for the high-speed section between Florence and Milan, held on 5 December last, was a highly significant event at national and even European level.
It was the finishing touch to a 1000 km-long high-speed/high-capacity line between Turin and Salerno, linking Italy’s major cities to Rome and Naples.
In the presence of European Commissioner Antonio Tajani, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, President of FS Mr Cipoletta, CEO of FS Mauro Moretti and the presidents and mayors of the regions and towns on the line, the ceremony was a chance to remind those attending of the basic facts concerning this entirely Italian project: the busiest rail corridor of the country, accounting for 65% of the Italian population, will have its own “metro line”, on which people will be able to travel from Milan to Rome in three hours or Florence to Milan in one hour and three quarters.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi highlighted the fact that this line would make access even easier to the tourist sites of the country, which is home to 60 % of the world’s works of art. For the Mayor of Milan, it was also a way of recovering from the crisis by giving fresh impetus to infrastructure and the economy. Moreover, the West-East (Portugal-Ukraine) and North-South (Rotterdam-Genoa and Berlin-Palermo) priority European corridors now place Milan at the heart of Europe, a point which the European Commission considers crucial.
Finally, environmental aspects were not overlooked, as most of the major stations along the line had benefited from renovation and urban planning projects. In addition, over 1 million plants had been planted along the Milan-Bologna section as a contribution to the neutralisation of greenhouse gases. UIC once again addresses its warmest congratulations for the opening of this new section, on which commercial operations begin on 13 December 2009.