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If you meet me at the station

Di Antonio Caneva, 23 luglio 2004

If you happen to meet me at the railway station while I’m waiting on the platform for a Eurostar, please choose without delay to change your means of transport!
Persuaded by commercials that the Italian railways had radically changed (I had not got onto a train for years) I decided to go to Rome by a Eurostar train. On the way back, the train got to the Termini station with a fifty-minute delay, and added a further 20 minutes on the way to Milan. Though hesitantly, the next week I again decided to take a Eurostar to go to Venice. The usual walking tour of Venice, a special visit to Hotel San Clemente, and finally at night, tired of the walk, the air-conditioned train feels like a oasis in the desert. We seat ourselves comfortably, and we are departing….. No! The loudspeaker announces that the train will not leave (without explanation) and let us take care of ourselves. The information provided by a ground assistant surrounded by a group of Japanese travellers almost had a resentful sound: take the next train, an Intercity train that leaves in an hour’s time, where the previous bookings are not going to be accepted, so hurry up if you don’t want to be standing all the way. The usual assault scenes, non-existent air conditioning, delays in arrivals and departures. Once in Milan, however, two hours later than planned, it would have been possible to request a partial reimbursement by applying at the information office. Pity that, by then, it was almost 11 at night, and the above-mentioned office was already closed.
The next week again (I seem to be stubborn), in order to avoid parking problems, I travelled by train from Rapallo to Monterosso in the Cinque Terre to spend a day at the beach. On the way back, the train had managed to accumulate a delay of over one hour in few kilometres. End of my experimentation with our renovated railway system.
A few days ago I happened to be at the Garibaldi Station in Milan, where huge panels advertise the activity of Trenitalia, which is launching the innovative real property project of the “hundred squares”; the transformation undergone by the State Railways has involved the creation of a number of service companies which are certainly going to increase business, but one naturally wonders: who will make the trains run?

Translation of the Italian
editorial by Paola Praloran

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