“Travelling in our overnight trains instead of using the car or taking the plane, is a completely different experience,” says General Manager Roberto Rinaudo. “It is a really pleasant way to travel, and we do everything we can to make our passengers feel comfortable and safe.”
Thello was established in 2011 as a joint venture between Transdev, formerly Veolia Transdev, a Frenchbased international private public transport operator, and the Italian state-owned railway company Trenitalia. Since December 2011, the company has operated night trains between the railway stations Gare de Lyon in Paris and Venezia Santa Lucia in Venice, which stop at Dijon-Ville, Milano Centrale, Brescia, Verona Porta Nuova, Vicenza and Padua.
In 2014, Thello launched a new service made up of six daytime trains between Milan, Nice and Marseille and vice versa. Since 2016, Thello has been 100% owned by Trenitalia. The headquarters have remained in France. The railway company employs 80 people and generates an annual turnover of 45 million EUR.
“The market has been open for our services,” states Mr. Rinaudo. “Our trains have been very well received by customers, and based on this success, we have been able to expand our portfolio.”
Thello’s traditional focus has been its overnight train service between Paris and Venice. The train from Paris leaves at 7:14 in the evening and arrives in Venice at 9:35 the next morning. The second train leaves Venice at 7:20 in the evening, arriving in Paris at 9:55 in the morning.
The sleeping cars are equipped with cabins with one to three beds and couchette compartments with four to six berths so passengers can choose between two comfort levels. Cabins with bunk beds offer additional features such as a wash basin with towels while berths are more simply equipped with a bedding kit.
Each train provides a bar and restaurant car, where the travellers can enjoy a drink or breakfast after a good night’s sleep. “Comfort and service for our passengers are very important to us,” points out the General Manager. “Our crew is there to ensure the comfort and safety of our customers while they are on the train. After they have settled into their cabins, the crew will inform them of the journey and the police formalities for crossing the borders.”
Punctuality is another priority for Thello, and the railway company does everything in its power to ensure that its clients reach their destination on time. Travelling with an overnight train offers a lot of advantages for Thello’s clients.
Passengers can carry more luggage than on airplanes, and they are able to reach their destination relaxed and ready for the day. Passengers can benefit from the same advantages on Thello’s daytime services on the route linking Milan, Nice and Marseilles, which is not only used by tourists, but also by business travellers and commuters.
About one million people use the overnight and day trains each year, and more and more customers are becoming aware of their advantages. The tickets are available at Thello’s own ticket shops in Paris and southern France, online, at travel agencies or from ticket vending machines.
Thello aims to further expand its portfolio and plans to add more routes between France and Italy, for example. It also works continually on improving its services. It currently has a plan in progress focussing amongst other things on implementing a new catering model, a higher level of overnight service, cleanliness and security on board.
“We are working on different concepts to make the journey for our guests even more comfortable and exciting,” explains Mr. Rinaudo. “In the near future, we will organize different events on our trains, such as concerts or other cultural events. There will also be interesting offers available for our passengers, which we are going to provide in cooperation with hotels or car rentals. Travelling with Thello will remain a unique experience.”