Good Practices - Italy
MI.CO.TRA TRAIN (Migliori collegamenti transfrontalieri – Improved cross border connections)



Thanks to the cooperation among key stakeholders in the cross-border area Italy-Austria, the Mi.co.tra train was launched on 2012 as an experimental railway connection between the cities of Villach (Austria - Land Carinthia) and Udine (Italy – Friuli Venezia Giulia Region).

Area of intervention and Mi.co.tra train connection

Financed under the Interreg IV Italy-Austria Programme 2007-2013, the MICOTRA project consisted of two couples of trains every day between the two cities, also connecting peripheral small towns and villages in between. Ferrovie Udine-Cividale (in house railway company of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region) provided the locomotive for the train, while the Österreichische Bundes Bahn (ÖBB) provided the carriages. The two companies jointly managed the experimental service between 2012 and 2013 thanks to the financial support provided by EU Funds.

Based on the excellent results of the experimental phase financed within the EU project Mi.Co.Tra, involved stakeholders (Land Carinthia and Friuli Venezia Giulia Region) decided to confirm the railway service with regional funds even after the end of the project.

At the end of 2014 the train registered 72.334 passengers and 7.661 bicycles. In 2015 the numbers increased: 79.420 and the bicycles 11.885 (respectively + 9.8% and 55.1%). Each train offers two compartments for up to 150 passenger, and one railcar is equipped for bicycle transport. FUC holds exclusive rights to perform the Villach-Udine railway services owing a specific PSO contract signed with the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region.

The MiCoTra project successfully aimed at promoting a modal shift from road to rail in the area and, moreover, has led to an important increase in sustainable mobility and a reduction in CO2 emissions,

Main stakeholders involved in the Mi.Co.Tra train service are:

  • Ferrovie Udine Cividale (Udine- Cividale railway company- inhouse company of the RFVG)
  • Österreichische Bundes Bahn (ÖBB)
  • Friuli Venezia Giulia Region (RFVG)
  • Land Carinthia
Area of intervention and Mi.co.tra train connection
3. Challenges and barriers in implementing /introducing selected good practice and respective ways used in order to overcome or limit risks

The main obstacle was represented by the need to set up a train operated with rolling stock and staff from two different operators (in the case of OBB the staff and rolling stock are managed by two separate companies within the OBB holding).

As regards the service, operators had to find agreements on train paths, timetables, tariffs (and how to issue tickets). Additionally, they discussed and agreed on how to allocate revenues, manage responsibilities and how to deal with potential accidents and irregularities on both CB sides (Italy and Austria).

All these aspects were discussed during various stakeholders’ meetings.

Based on the agreements found, a contract/agreement was signed between the operators (FUC and OBB), setting all the obligations to perform the service.

4. Funding mechanism, cooperation schemes developed and institutional reforms made

The project was initially financed under the Interreg IV Italy - Austria Programme 2007-2013. After the experimental phase, thanks to the excellent results in terms of passengers’ and touristic flows, main stakeholders (Land Carinthia and FVG region) decided to finance this cross border service with regional funds. An experimental extension of this train service to Trieste is actually under implementation, thanks to the CONNECT2CE project (funded by the ERDF under the Interreg Central Europe Programme 2014 – 2020 – Second call).

This extension of the existing Udine-Villach service to Trieste, with two trains per day in each direction, will be active until June 2019 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays (both Austrian and Italian). On weekdays the Udine - Villach service will continue as it is.

The information about ticket costs and timetables are available here: http://www.ferrovieudinecividale.it/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Servizio-Micotra-estensione-a-Trieste.pdf

As far as the cooperation schemes are concerned, main stakeholders were strongly involved (from the Micotra experimental phase) and committed to find agreements on all the topics to be solved in order to launch the cross-border railway service. As a consequence of the agreements found, the railway operators (OBB and FUC) signed a specific agreement/contract in which all the characteristics of the service to be performed as well as the mutual obligations were regulated.

Train and bike service in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region
5. Factors of success
6. Recommendations, transferability

The whole process for setting up, confirming and now extending the cross-border train Micotra can be intended as a successful roadmap for the development of new cross border railway connections. Cooperation schemes among key stakeholders, written agreement/contract between the two operators and knowledge gained during the Micotra experience could represent an important starting point for highlighting the key factors that have to be taken into consideration when setting up (in a different territory) a cross border rail connection.