Rome does airport express right

August 23, 2017

We saw a lot of great things on our trip to Italy. The food was great. The scenery was inspiring. You won't be surprised, though, to learn that one of my favorite parts was spending a few minutes at the train station inside Rome's airport.

I was only there briefly, but saw three different types of trains: first, a high-speed, intercity train that was ready to depart to downtown Rome and then onward to Venice at speeds up to 160 mph. (This is the train on the left, in the background, in the first photo.) Imagine arriving from overseas at O'Hare and proceeding to downtown Minneapolis or Cincinnati on a fast, comfortable train. It would be a lot nicer than cramming into a little "puddle jumper" plane where you spend just as much time in the prison-like phases of taxiing, takeoff and landing as you do in level flight.

Next, a Leonardo Express arrived. This is a first-class, non-stop "airport express" train from downtown Rome. It makes the journey in only 32 minutes but at a premium fare. This is exactly the sort of train Mayor Emanuel would love to see from downtown Chicago to O'Hare. (This is the train on the right in the first photo.)

Rome Airport commuter trainFinally, there was a commuter train bound for a small town on the far opposite side of Rome, making all stops along the way. (This is the blue and green train in the second photo.) Even though it's a second-class train, it has comfortable seats on two full levels, plus roll-on boarding for bikes and wheelchairs. Imagine taking a single Metra train from Blue Island or South Holland, through downtown, all the way to O'Hare.

We could have all this here in the Midwest. CrossRail Chicago calls for upgrading and extending our existing railroad network to not only bring first-class express trains to O'Hare, but also commuter and intercity trains from around the region. We won't enjoy this level of interconnectivity or travel options if we build an all-new type of transit to O'Hare that isn't compatible with the "regular old railroads" that already surround Chicago.

Donate today if you want to see this sort of great train service in the Midwest.

Articles we enjoyed

California's future tied to rail: Report

Texas Central picks team for multi-billion-dollar rail project

George Osborne calls for HS3 rail line for northern England

From Sydney to Melbourne in under three hours on a train

China to launch new, 400 km/h trains on Beijing to Shanghai route

Construction on China-Thailand high-speed railway to finally begin in October