Italo (nick-named the 'Ferrari train') was founded in 2012 as a high-speed, low-fare direct competitor to Trenitalia, Italy's state-controlled railway system. The combination of low fares and speedy, comfortable travel has attracted millions of loyal passengers and given Italo a profit margin of more than 30%.
Some of these customers used to ride Trenitalia's trains and some used to fly Ryanair and Easyjet between Rome and Milan. Now Italo is adding more trains and extending its coverage to new destinations as its discount pricing structure has helped it grow to the second-largest train system in Italy.
Four price levels allow passengers to choose the value they're willing to pay for. Italo even has a frequent-rider loyalty reward scheme and a cobranded American Express credit card that offers upgrades and other benefits.
Watch for discount train travel to become more of a competitive challenge for railway systems and no-frills airlines in other European nations, as well.