Swiss Railways train in Zurich Station
The Rail line between Genoa, Nice and Marseille passes along a mainly densely populated fairly affluent part of the Mediterranen. Within both Italy and France there are frequent regular interval stopping services, regional services, some Intercity services in Italy and some TGV services in France. Yet none of these services cross the border at Ventimiglia. The line on the Italian stretch of the coast has undergone substantial investment in recent years giving reductions in the journey time between Genoa and the border.
When I did a journey from Genoa to Nice in 2013, it was not possible to take a through train nor could you buy a through ticket. I took a Trenitalia IC train to Ventimiglia and arrived to discover there were no ticket machines and only one window open to buy a ticket for the onward local service to Nice. With over 100 people wanting to continue into France, a long queue built up and at least half of us missed the next departing service(every 30 minutes). I was one of the unlucky ones who missed the first train and effectively wasted around 1 hour buying tickets and making this un-necessary change of train.
Then in 2014, I was pleased to hear that Thello (A subsidiary of Trenitalia) had launched a through ‘Eurocity’ type of service between Milan, Genoa, Nice and Marseille. While not all trains ran the whole distance, there was, at least, a regular interval daytime service every 2 hours between Genoa and Nice. The service was reasonably well patronised for the next 6 years until it became a casualty of Covid and was suspended in early 2020. As Thello received no government subsidies they announced that the service was permanently withdrawn from June 2021.
It would be a fitting tribute to the end of ‘The European Year of Rail’ if the French & Italian Governments got together and invested in the re-launch of what could be a very popular and useful service along the 2 Rivieras. Alternatively, could The Ligurian region in Italy not pair-up with the Provence, Alpes, Cote D’Azur(PACA) region in France to do the same ?
Nigel Perkins – December 2021