Trenitalia, a train operator in Italy, has started a ‘COVID-free’, high-speed train service for the first time in Europe between Rome and Milan. The service began operating twice a day in each direction as an experimental initiative on April 16.

If the experiment proves to be successful, the company plans to expand its service to other routes as well, reports.

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In order for the passengers to be able to board the train, they are required to arrive at the station 45 minutes before departure. Additionally, all persons must provide a negative PCR test result or a nasal antigen swab not older than 48 hours. Children under the age of six are exempt from such requirements unless the parents insist their child gets tested.

On the other hand, if someone is unable to present any of the above-mentioned tests, they can get a nasal swab test before boarding the train at the tents that have been set up by the Italy Red Cross at the Roma Termini and Milano Centrale stations.

To be eligible for testing at the site, passengers need to have a COVID-free train ticket with them, an identification document, and a health card. However, if they test positive while at the site, they will get a full refund of the train ticket. The passenger can also choose between accepting a voucher available for 12 months or the monetary amount.

Moreover, the COVID-free train provides spacing between the seats, allowing only 50 per cent of chairs to be occupied, following the checkerboard seating arrangement that leaves every other seat in a venue empty.

The tickets for the train have been on sale since April 11. The Frecciarossa ‘COVID-free’ train leaves every day at 8.50 am from Termini to Milano Centrale without any stops, and another one leaves from Milano to Termini at 6 pm.

Except for the Roma Termini and Milano Centrale, the FS Group also plans on setting up additional testing spaces in 11 other stations in Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Florence Santa Maria Novella, Naples Central, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Turin Porta Nuova, and Venice Mestre.

The managing director of the FS, Gianfranco Battisti, revealed that they plan on extending the Covid-free train services in order to allow “travel in total safety to tourist destinations such as Florence, Venice, Naples and many others”. A detailed plan regarding the times and destinations of the train has not been disclosed yet.

Earlier this month, Italy decided to prolong quarantine requirements for all European Union travellers until the end of April due to the current COVID-19 situation. Meanwhile, the travel and tourism sector of the country experienced a loss of €120.6 billion as most countries suspended international travel.