‘COVID-free’ Trains Will Soon Run Between Rome and Milan

high-speed trains at the railway Milan Central Station in Italy

Travelers can soon hit the rails in Italy with peace of mind again. The nation's primary train operator announced that it will start testing "COVID-free" rides next month, on which all passengers and staff will be tested before boarding, CNN reported.

"We have chosen the Rome to Milan route for the initial testing phase," Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane CEO Gianfranco Battisti said last week, adding that the first trains will depart at the beginning of April. "Then, we will implement this for tourist destinations for the summer. It will be a unique opportunity, which will allow people to visit destinations such as Venice and Florence."

Passengers on these trains will need to arrive at the station an hour ahead of departure for on-site testing, which will be handled by the Red Cross and Italian Civil Protection. While specific dates are still forthcoming, the concept will likely start on the high-speed Frecce trains, a representative told CNN.

Right now, masks are required on all trains, which operate at 50% capacity. The Frecce trains also have seat assignments that must be adhered to.

This was just one of several announcements that the operator, which runs Trenitalia, made last week. As part of Italy's strategic vaccination plan, the main train terminal in Rome is also now the country's first major railway hub to serve as a vaccination point, offering up to 1,500 shots per day in three mobile tents set up in the piazza in front of the station, as detailed in a release.

Separately, the operator also launched a healthcare train that can both treat patients on board and transport them to hospitals with more capacity. The train has three healthcare carriages that can hold seven patients each, as well as intensive care beds for those requiring ventilation, according to a release.

This comes as Italy went into another lockdown yesterday. COVID-19 cases have spiked again in the country, with the more contagious variant, first found in the U.K, becoming the dominant one. The current measures prohibit travel between regions through April 6. "COVID-free" flights to Italy had already been launched by Delta from Atlanta to Rome.

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