Furs class: Italian train operator now offering ‘reserved space next to you for your dog’

All a-pawed: larger pets can book a space next to their owners

<p>Paws for thought: the space reserved for dogs (at nearly half the adult fare) on Italian trains</p>

Paws for thought: the space reserved for dogs (at nearly half the adult fare) on Italian trains

One of Italy’s leading train operators is now selling tickets that allow canine passengers to travel beside their human owners.

Italo, which runs high-speed trains nationwide in competition with Italian State Railways, is telling passengers: “If your dog is medium or large in size or if you do not want [it] to travel in a pet carrier, you can select the ‘Dog’ option from the train search engine and purchase the service at an affordable price along with your ticket.

“In this way you will be able to keep it comfortably next to you during the trip in a dedicated space.

“The service is available in Smart and Prima environments and with all Italo rates.”

On a test booking for a short-notice journey from Rome to Milan in Prima (first) class, the human fare was €90 (£77) with the dog paying €40 (£34).

The opportunity was spotted by Mark Smith, the international rail travel guru who runs The Man in Seat Sixty-One website.

He described it as “possibly a European first,” and told The Independent that the demand from pet owners for rail information is very strong.

Waiting to disem-bark: Pip, The Dog In Seat Sixty-One on a North Sea ferry

“Our dog Pip – a cockapoo – is very experienced now at sea crossings, less so on trains.

“However, years before I got Pip, almost as soon as I set up Seat61, I realised I needed a pets page as so many people asked about it.”

Eurostar, which is the only international passenger rail link between the UK and Continental Europe, tells pet owners: “Unfortunately, Eurostar isn’t part of the pet passport scheme, so we only allow guide dogs and assistance dogs on board.

“Since our trains don’t have space to carry animals comfortably, we feel it’s in the best interests of pets, their owners and other passengers not to let them on the train.”

Mr Smith said Eurostar is “one of the few services in Europe that won’t take dogs”.

The ban by the cross-frontier trains operator includes border collies.

The high-speed rail line to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam passes through Barking and close to the Isle of Dogs.

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