The service, branded Mercitalia Fast, will begin operating in October, with a modified ETR 500 high-speed train linking the Caserta Marcianise and Bologna Interporto terminals. The journey time will be 3h 20min with an average speed of 180km/h.

The 12-car train will be adapted to carry 70x80x180 roll containers, which according to Mercitalia will provide the equivalent capacity of two Boeing 747 cargo aircraft.

In the longer-term, Mercitalia envisages the extension of Mercitalia Fast services to terminals in other cities on the Italian high-speed network, including Turin, Novara, Milan, Brescia, Verona, Padua, Rome and Bari.

The plans were unveiled by Mr Renato Mazzoncini, CEO of FS, Mr Ivan Soncini, president of Mercitalia Logistics, and Mr Marco Grosso, Mercitalia’s CEO, at an event marking the first full year of Mercitalia operations. The company was created in January 2017 with the grouping of FS’ freight transport and logistics businesses.

Since its launch, Mercitalia has ordered 125 Traxx electric locomotives from Bombardier and is investing €27m in 250 new freight wagons.

The FS Group industrial plan for 2017-2026 allocates €1.5bn for investment in the freight and logistics sector.