Trenitalia could withdraw its Thello subsidiary from France.

Pre-lockdown we saw Thello proceeding with plans to operate a daytime high-speed Milan-Paris service.

Italy’s Thello prepares for Milan-Paris summer service

But before that was possible Trenitalia needed a decision from France’s rail regulator Arafer.

However Arafer has not yet responded and one wonders whether or not this service will ever proceed and so provide competition to SNCF’s TGVs.

Thello’s most important cross-border service was its overnight sleeper train which operated from Paris (Lyon) to Venice with stops en route which included Milan, Brescia, Verona and Padua.

One would imagine such a route, covering both corporate and leisure points, would be popular.

However it was discontinued at the start of lockdown and this Paris-Milan-Venice nighttrain has not been restored.

But what has made the headlines is Thello’s intention to discontinue its daytime Nice-Monaco-Genoa-Milan service early next year.

It’s a decision with described as “Earthquake on the rails: Thello trains on the Cote d’Azur and in the Var, it’s over!”

It’s a valuable service. Thello’s website displays this train’s route and as you can see it links many destinations of interest to corporate and leisure travellers alike.

Moreover at Milan there are links to Switzerland plus Northern and Central Italy.

So far Trenitalia has given no reason for its plan to cease the route but union CFTD (Cheminots Thello) says it will mean a loss of 38 jobs in Nice.

This is disappointing news when you consider the EU’s ‘green’ transport policy is intended to encourage more people to take the train.

To this end it wants more cross-border services and more competition from open access firms like Thello.

As EU-expert Jon Worth notes, “France-Italy cross border [by rail] is already dire and is due to get worse still.  There is so much more that could be done than just focusing on building a massive tunnel through the Alps.”

Jon Worth is referring to the Lyon-Turin high-speed line and the controversial Alpine tunnel. More information on this development can be found here.