Pompeii Archaeological Park (image via Flickr)

Rome and Pompeii will soon be connected with a direct high-speed train. The project is expected to be completed in 2024, said Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano during a TV interview last week. Sangiuliano cited increased access to cultural heritage and economic growth as drivers for the new initiative.

The current journey from Rome to Pompeii takes around two hours and requires a transfer in Naples. The last segment of the trip is a scenic but time-consuming stretch along the Mediterranean Sea on a local train that makes frequent stops. The new rail line will avoid this final leg by adding Pompeii as a stop on an existing high-speed rail line that connects Sorrento, Naples, and Rome. Construction of the new Pompeii station is expected to cost some €35 million (~$38 million).

In 2021, Italy welcomed over 27 million tourists as the tourism industry accounted for almost 10% of the country’s GDP. Those numbers are expected to increase as the COVID-19 pandemic fades away.

Pompeii was preserved in 79 CE when Mount Vesuvius covered the bustling city in ash. The archaeological park attracted almost three million visitors last year, and the new rail line could bring even more foot traffic to the ancient site.

Archaeologists there continue to improve the park’s infrastructure and preserve and exhibit new findings (now in part with the help of robotic dogs). In the last year alone, the park revealed a strange fresco of a well-endowed god, excavated a middle-class home, and presented an exhibition of erotic art.

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.