Ferrari's Montezemolo launches high-speed train

Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:30am EDT
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By Philip Pullella

NAPLES (Reuters) - As Europe's first privately owned high-speed train hit 300 kph just outside Naples, Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo smiled at the suggestion that he was addicted to risk and velocity.

"Yes," he said. "Yes, speed and risk, risk in terms of economic risk. I think an entrepreneur has to risk, if not, he is not an entrepreneur anymore."

Montezemolo and a consortium of private investors are taking a 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) risk that they can provide better high-speed train service between major Italian cities than state-run Trenitalia, taking advantage of a 2006 European Union move to open up track to competition.

"We have brought an end to one of the longest monopolies in the history of our country. Finally, Italian travelers and tourists can choose," he said.

The new company, called NTV, or Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori, starts service between Rome and eight other Italian cities on April 28 and will eventually have 25 trains - a new type of locomotive-free rolling stock that has an engine under each car to increase capacity.

Montezemolo and businessmen Diego Della Valle of luxury goods maker Tod's, Gianni Punzo and Giuseppe Sciarrone founded the startup in 2006.

They were later joined by Banca Intesa San Paolo, Italy's largest insurer Generali, businessman Alberto Bombassei from Brembo brake company and French state railway company SNCF, which took a 20 percent stake and provides know-how.

But Montezemolo, chairman of NTV, is clearly the leading man in a high-profile business script aimed at snatching 25 percent of Italy's high-speed train market by 2014 and breaking even the same year. It hopes to attract 8-9 million passengers a year by then.   Continued...

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, president for the NTV, waves as he poses in front of the new high-speed train "Italo" at the Naples central station, April 20, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi