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Italy Frets Over Fast Train Woes

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June 14, 1998|TIMES ROME BUREAU

While a fatal German trail derailment captured headlines earlier this month, Italians were fretting about problems with their own high-speed passenger trains.

So far this year, one person has been killed and 54 injured in four major incidents involving Italy's state railway, especially its ETR-500 fast trains. Two weeks ago, about 250 passengers were trapped for four hours in a tunnel on the heavily touristed Rome-Florence route after the train's overhead power line broke. Two days later, a sleeper car caught fire near Cosenza after being hit by a power line. Italian consumer activists warned against traveling on the ETR-500, calling it "dangerous," and the railway conceded it will take years to fix the system's problems.

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