FS Class ETR 500

ETR 500 (Elettro Treno Rapido 500) is a family of Italian high-speed trains introduced in 1993.

ETR.500 (mono-current)
ETR 500 (bi-current)
ETR 500 F (tri-current)
The ETR 500 "Frecciarossa" of the Italian Railways
Operator(s)Trenitalia (current)
Power supply(?)
Electric system(s)Overhead catenary,
3 kV DC, ETR.500 (mono)
+ 25 kV 50 Hz AC, ETR 500 (bi)
+ 1.5 kV, ETR 500 F (tri)
Current collection methodPantograph
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

Designed under the aegis of the Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), it is now operated by Trenitalia on RFI tracks.


The opening of the Direttissima line, connecting Florence with Rome, in stages between 1978 and 1991 was the first high speed line in Europe. Then, in the 1990s, FS unveiled plans to build a whole new high speed network. As the larger part of the network would be suited for speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph), new, non-tilting trains had to be designed as the tilting equipment used in the ETR 450, 460 and 480 Pendolino series was not suited for speeds of over 250 km/h (155 mph).

The new train was to be built by the TREVI (TREno Veloce Italiano, "Italian Fast Train") formed by Breda Costuzioni Ferroviarie, FIAT Ferroviaria, Tecnomasio and Firema Trasporti.


In 1988 the first prototype motorcar, called ETR 500-X and nicknamed "Remo," as the brother of the first Roman king, rolled out of the factory in Vado Ligure. It was tested on the Direttissima line in the combination of a measuring car and an E 444 locomotive, reaching a record speed of 319 km/h (198 mph).

In 1990 the 2 first complete trainsets, called ETR 500-Y and nicknamed "Romolo," as the first Roman king, were delivered. They were used as test units between their delivery and 1995, when the first production sets entered into service.Between 1995 and 1997 they were also used in normal commercial service when there was a shortage of normal ETR.500 trainsets.

The 3 motorcars of the prototype sets are now based at different locations in Italy and unfortunately have been vandalised and graffitized. The middle cars of the 2 ETR 500-Y sets are now part of the two RFI ETR.500 test trains Y1 and Y2.

First generation

ETR.500 (mono-current)
ETR.500 mono-current powercar at Roma Termini.
In service1992–2007
ManufacturerTrevi (consortium of Breda Costuzioni Ferroviarie, FIAT Ferroviaria, Tecnomasio and Firema Trasporti)
Refurbishment2006–2008, transformation into E.414
Number built30 trainsets
Formation11-car trainset
Capacity187 (1st class)
469 (2nd class)
Train length327.6 m (1,074 ft 10 in)
Maximum speed300 km/h (186 mph)
Weight598 t (589 long tons; 659 short tons)
Power output8,800 kW (11,800 hp)
Train heating(?)
Electric system(s)Overhead catenary,
3 kV DC
Current collection methodPantograph
Safety system(s)RS4, SCMT
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

After the success of the 2 prototypes, FS decided to order 30 mono-current trainsets supporting the 3 kV DC supply of existing lines. Delivered between 1992 and 1996, with interiors styled by design company Pininfarina, they consist of 2 motorcars (numbered E 404 100 to 159), four first class cars, a restaurant car, and six second class cars. Although suited for driving 300 km/h (186 mph), they were limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) on the Direttissima as the current drawn from the catenary at 300 km/h (186 mph) would be too high. This was also the reason why a second generation, dual-voltage trains was ordered.

Major routes of this train were Chiusi-Milan, Florence-Naples, Milan-Rome Termini, Milan-Naples, Bologna-Rome Termini, Milan-Salerno, Milan-Venice, Venice-Rome Termini.

Between 2006 and 2008, the first generation trains have been upgraded with newly built E.404 6xx dual-voltage motorcars, coupled to the existing middle cars. All E.404 0xx motorcars of the older trainsets have been refurbished and transformed into locomotives of the type E.414, to haul EuroStarCity trains on selected routes. These trains consist of two E.414 locomotives and 10 former Intercity UIC-Z coaches. Although the coaches are "normal" Intercity coaches, they will mostly remain in semi-permanent coupled formation with the two E.414 locomotives.

Second generation

ETR 500 (bi-current)
ETR F 500 (tri-current)
ETR.500 "AV" at Milano Centrale.
In service2000 – present
ManufacturerTrevi (consortium of Alstom, Bombardier, AnsaldoBreda)
Refurbishment2012 (replacing 1st and 2nd class with 4 levels of service)
Number built30 complete trainsets + 60 power cars (for 1st generation mono-current sets)
Number in service59 trainsets
Formationpower car + 11 middle cars + power car (original-2004, 2011-present)
12 middle cars (2004-2010)
8 middle cars (ETR 500 F, Turin-Milan)
Capacity11 middle cars:
187 (1st class)
469 (2nd class)
12 middle cars:
195 (1st class)
476 (2nd class)
8 middle cars:
136 (1st class)
268 (2nd class); From 2012: 574 seats. Executive 8 armchairs + meeting room for 6 people (coach 1); Business 159 (coaches 1,2,3,4); Bar- Bistrot (coach 5); Premium 67 (coach 6); Standard 340 (coaches 7,8,9,10,11)
Line(s) servedTorino-Milano-Bologna-Firenze-Roma-Napoli-Salerno; Torino-Milano-Verona-Padova-Venezia-Trieste/Udine; Venezia-Padova-Bologna-Firenze-Roma-Napoli-Salerno; Milano-Bologna-Ancona-Pescara-Bari-(Lecce)
Train length327.6 m (1,074 ft 10 in)
(original formation)
Maximum speed360 km/h (224 mph)
Weight598 t (589 long tons; 659 short tons)
Power output8,800 kW (11,800 hp)
Power supply(?)
Electric system(s)Overhead catenary,
3 kV DC, 25 kV 50 Hz AC
(+ 1.5 kV DC for ETR.500 F)
Current collection methodPantograph
Safety system(s)RS4, SCMT, ETCS (+ KVB and TVM430 for ETR.500 F)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

With the new high-speed lines finally in construction, FS chose to electrify the lines at 25 kV 50 Hz AC instead of 3 kV DC as used on the classic network. This allows the trains to drive at their top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), as 3 kV is technically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) operation. As the first generation trains can not operate off 25 kV AC, new trains had to be ordered. As the new trains can run both off 25 kV AC and 3 kV DC, they were designated P for politensione (multi-voltage).

The new power cars of the trains feature a totally different design than the first generation trainsets, although also designed by design company Pininfarina. These new trains, delivered between 2000 and 2005, consist in original formation of 2 motorcars, four 1st class cars, a restaurant car, and six 2nd class cars. However, with the addition of a Business class car after the four 1st class cars to all trainsets, expansion to 12 middle cars was finished in 2004.[1]

The ETR 500 P started regular service with their commercial top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) on the Rome-Naples and Torino-Novara high-speed lines, when those lines were opened for revenue service on 22 December 2005 resp. 1 February 2006.[2]

The second generation trains can be divided in multiple sub-series. They were delivered in three batches:

  • ETR 500 P ord. '96 (sets 31-60 with power cars numbered E.404 500-559): trainset built as new.
  • ETR 500 P ord. '02 (sets 1-30 with power cars numbered E.404 600-659): power cars built as new for use with cars from the 1st generation (mono-current) trainsets.
  • power cars E.404 660-663: an extension of the second batch, to replace four power cars sold to infrastructure authority RFI (see below), delivered in 2007-8.

In addition, there are rebuilt and refurbished versions:

  • ETR 500 F: trainsets modified for operation in France (F for Francia = France). This version was tri-current, as it was also enabled for the 1.5 kV DC system used on conventional lines in Southern France. These sets had only 8 middle cars: three 1st class cars, a restaurant car, and four 2nd class cars. Multiple trains, including sets 39,[3] 54, 58[4] and 60[3] were converted and used for tests in France from 2001 to 2005 on the LGV Nord line. However, no type approval was granted for the trains in France even after the tests, the trains never entered regular cross-border service. Both the middle and power cars were rebuilt as standard P units in 2006-7.[3]
  • ETR 500 Y1 (with power cars numbered E.404 649, 652[5]) and Y2 (with power cars numbered E.404 648, 621[5]): test trains for infrastructure authority RFI, with new tractor heads attached to the old middle cars of the original Y500 prototypes. Used for the commissioning of new high-speed lines. Y1 has 8 middle cars, Y2 has 3 at present.
  • ETR 500 P 8-car sets for Turin-Milan: When the Turin-Novara high-speed line was opened in 2006, Turin-Milan service started with ETR 500 P units reduced to 8 middle cars, to fit the length of the station platforms at Malpensa Airport. These trains included set 60 (part of a former ETR 500 F set) in special 2006 Winter Olympics livery.
  • ETR 500 "AV": in 2005, Trenitalia introduced a new service concept for its high-speed trainsets, under the new brand name AV (for Alta Velocità = High Speed) in addition to Eurostar Italia. In the course of this, all ETR 500 trainsets received new interior and a new livery, with the "AV" logo prominently displayed on the power cars.
  • ETR 500 "Frecciarossa": in 2008, Trenitalia introduced new brand names for its Eurostar Italia Alta Velocità high-speed trains that categorise them according to top speed. The new brand name for trains with top speeds in the 300–350 km/h range is Frecciarossa (meaning Red Arrow).[6] The ETR 500 and the new ETR 1000 are currently the only trains qualifying as Frecciarossa. The trains receive a new livery with a red stripe and the brand name on the power cars.

Speed records

  • An ETR 500 F test train composed of 8-car trainset 54 with motor cars E.404 500 and 526 set a record speed of 335 km/h (208 mph) between Lille and Marne-la Vallée in France on 2 June 2005.[7][8]
  • ETR 500 P set 31, shortened to 8 middle cars, achieved 348.5 km/h on the Rome-Naples line on 7 September 2005.[9]
  • ETR 500 P set 31 achieved 350.8 km/h (218.0 mph) (on 5 October 2005[9]) and then ETR 500 Y2 achieved 352.0 km/h on 25 May 2006[10][11] on the Turin-Novara line.
  • ETR 500 Y2, during commissioning tests of the upgraded Ankara-Eskişehir line, part of the Turkish high-speed railway network, achieved a national rail speed record for Turkey at 303 km/h.[12]
  • ETR 500 Y1 achieved 355 km/h on the Milan-Bologna line on 1 March 2008 at 17:23.[10][13][14]

The last speed record is 362 km/h (225 mph) (also trainset Y1) between Florence and Bologna.(2009/02/09)(La Stampa newspaper of Turin). This represents the "indoors" world speed record, as the speed was reached in the Monte Bibele tunnel on the new high speed line between Bologna and Florence.[15]

By the end of 2017 Trenitalia will have 50 new ETR-1000 able to reach 360/400 km/h.[16]

See also


  1. "ETR500 general and technical specifications". EURAILmag. March 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  2. "Torino - Novara to carry Olympic traffic". Railway Gazette International. 2006-02-01. Archived from the original on December 3, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  3. "Orario internazionale, modifiche in... Del 02/04/2007" (in Italian). Ferrovie On Line. 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  4. "Directory: /pix/it/electric/emu/ETR500/dual/France". Railfaneurope.net. 2003-11-18. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  5. "Etr500 va in Turchia" (in Italian). Ferrovie On Line. 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  6. "La Flotta AV" (in Italian). Trenitalia. 2008. Archived from the original on January 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  7. "Treno Breda corre a 335 km all' ora". la Repubblica. 2005-06-03. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  8. "ITALIË" (PDF) (in Dutch). Het Openbaar Vervoer. October 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-06. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  9. "350.8 km/h sulla Torino-Novara" (in Italian). TransportiTT. 2005-10-06. Archived from the original on November 14, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  10. "Nuovo record di velocità sulla linea AV Milano-Bologna" (in Italian). FSNews. 2008-03-03. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
  11. "Nuovo record italiano di velocità..." (in Italian). Ferrovie On Line. 2006-05-29. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  12. "Nuovo record di velocità del treno italiano Etr 500 in Turchia: 303 km/h" (in Italian). Il Sole 24 Ore. 2007-09-14. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  13. "Record italiano di velocità" (in Italian). Tutto Treno. April 2008. Archived from the original on December 29, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  14. "200 giorni al primo treno Alta Velocità sulla Milano-Bologna" (in Italian). FSNews. 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
  15. Raggiunto in galleria il record mondiale di velocità di 362 km/h
  16. http://www.borsaitaliana.it/borsa/notizie/mf-dow-jones/italia-dettaglio.html?newsId=871357&lang=it


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