FS may connect Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin
Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) may extend its existing services to Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin. This interest in expanding their portfolio of European destinations stems from the rail network liberalisation that is ongoing in the European Union since June 2019.
The Brussels to Amsterdam route is a very popular line, currently only served by the Thalys high-speed trains and NS/SNCB intercity trains. The Italian FS Group is considering additional connections to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Berlin. “We’re currently understanding how we could be possible partners or possible actors for that part of Europe,” said Carlo Palasciano Villamagna, chief international officer of FS, to the Financial Times yesterday. According to him, there are already “Detailed plans to link Paris and Barcelona.” Palasciano also told the FT that the company would intend to operate a service complementary to that offered by competitors, through a higher standard of service.
Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris are already connected by Eurostar/ Thalys. This new potential for competition for Eurostar comes shortly after news that the Channel Tunnel could, finally, be on the cusp of an open-access market challenge. Indeed, National Express has ambitions to run international rail services between England and France, via the Channel Tunnel, starting as soon as 2025 as part of a consortium involving Mobico, Cosmen, and Alstom, under the name “Evolyn.”
FS Italiane aims to make Europe a domestic market and increase its international revenues from 1.8 billion euros in 2019 to around 5 billion in 2031, it lined out in its Ten-Year Industrial Plan. The company already links Milan to Paris. For instance, the Italian state railway operator is also planning to launch a new high-speed rail connection between Barcelona and Paris by the end of 2024. FS’s plan to connect Brussels and Amsterdam was studied at the same time as the Barcelona – Paris service. These connections would therefore not seem to connect Italy, where FS is based.
Once FS Italiane has trains running from Madrid to Paris, it effectively links Spain, France and Italy, as it already expanded its Frecciarossa trains on the route between Milan and Paris. On the route between Barcelona and Madrid, Trenitalia’s Iryo not only competes with AVE, the original service operated by Renfe, the state-owned railway of Spain, but also contends with two low-cost brands: the SNCF’s subsidiary, Ouigo, and Renfe’s Avlo.
RailTech also asked Renfe earlier this year, in May, about whether they had any plans for trains to the Netherlands on the Brussels/Amsterdam/Paris corridor as they are also big on expanding internationally. “At the moment there are no concrete plans,” they responded.