Stadler ETR 343/360 FLIRT of Trenitalia (Veneto region)
With the latest seasonal adjustment of the train schedule, as of December 15, 2013, the Veneto region has placed in service, part of the Trenitalia fleet, these new Stadler models ETR 343/360, very similar to the ETR 340 that has already been used for several years by Sistemi Territoriali (a local railway operated by the Region of Veneto) on the Venezia-Adria line. These trains are built by the Swiss firm Stadler, model FLIRT, and are articulated into modular sections.
Of the trains operating in Italy, these trains are probably the absolute best with regard to transporting bikes.
Access onto the train is direct where the station platform has been raised, something that is now prevalent, but even where a platform is still low getting up the steps does not involve particular difficulty.
The arrangement of the bike compartment is very simple, just place the bike along the row of folding seats in what can be considered a multi-purpose area. In principle, if there aren’t any bikes the seats can be used by other travelers; and if necessary the area can accommodate baby carriages and other bulky objects. Unfortunately, unlike the similar trains operated by SI, there are no straps to fasten the bike, so that the cyclist must use his own bungee cords; but even that is not that simple since there are no hooks to fasten them to; the only solution seems to be to fasten them to the register of the baseboard heater. A separate part of the train has places for wheelchairs.
For the first time in Italy a train has bike compartments located in several cars. I estimate the number of bike spaces to be about 16. At last the cyclist will no longer need to run from one end of the train to the other to get one’s bike on board, no longer need to climb up steps, no longer need to hang one’s bike.
One can only hope that these new trains will increase in availability and gradually replace other trains that are less bicycle-friendly.
To point out a surprising omission on these new trains: there is no trace of those very useful electrical outlets to recharge laptops, smart phones and cell phones that by now have become standard on later model trains such as the Vivalto and Minuetto, which makes it all the more surprising. I’m not sure if that decision is based on cost or some other concern; perhaps there had been episodes of abuse or vandalism? It’s a pity though because it’s the travelers that lose out.