The Italian way of railcars

Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:04 pm

It's Halloween time but I'm not a ghost. Sorry for the lam, I was busier than normal.

With the beginning of XX century and the development of road vehicles, railroads were thinking about the use of endothermic engines to obtain savings on lightly patronized services because steam powered railcars were yet on use but boiler, engine and stocks were too much bulky and a good lot of time was wasted in preparing and looking after this kind of power.
After primordial experiences with vehicles derived from the road ones, it appeared that the idea of a endothermic propelled coach was interesting but needed to have specific railroad features so each country and each builder developed its proper "philosophy"; it seems me that the evolution of FS non-electric railcars has been really interesting on the technical and stylistic sides so I will try to relate about it. Hope you will be pleased.

To help comprehension, this is the explanation of FS numbering. Private companies can use different codes.
Each unit is identified by an eight, nine or ten digits code: LLl (N)NN.(N)NNN

the first two are generally AL, that mean Automotrice Leggera (light railcar);
the third one (lower case) indicates the kind of fuel so it can be
b (benzina/gasoline)
n (nafta/diesel)
g (gas)
v (vapore/steam)
So, e.g., an ALb is a railcar powered by gasoline engine(s).
Sometimes the first three digits are ATR, that mean Auto Treno Rapido (rapid auto train); these are used for articulated railcars.

The second group of digits indicates the number of seats and is used as class number. If the first digit of this group is repeated, it means that the class is equipped with multiple control.
Examples:
ALb 48 is a 48 seats gasoline powered unit.
ALn 772 is a 72 seats diesel powered unit that can be controlled from a sister car.
In case of ATR, this group of digits only indicates the class, without regard for the seats.

The last group of digits indicates the builder (1=Fiat, 2=Breda, 3=OM, 4=Ansaldo, 5=others), possible different models with the same class number and the progressive number.
Examples:
ALn 556.2244 is a Breda built diesel unit with 56 seats and remote control and is completely different from ALn 556.1277 that is a Fiat built diesel unit equally with 56 seats and (different) remote control but of another model.
ALn 668.1703, a diesel powered 68 seats Fiat unit, is of the same class of ALn 668.1016 but of a different series.
In the case of ATR instead, the last block of digits only gives series and progressive number.

Some classes of railcars had driving trailers; their numbering followed the same concept apart the first digits that are Ln. Originally classified as RLn (Rimorchio Leggero per automotrice a nafta or light trailer for diesel railcar) very quickly the R has been abolished to avoid confusion with narrow gauge stock that was prefixed R too.
Example:
Ln 664.3512 is a OM built driving trailer for ALn 773 railcars.

Ok, for today it's all; at short (hoping) time some more specific note and, as usual, if you have queries or doubts don't hesitate: Uncle Benny will try to answer.

Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby NorthWest » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:06 am

Good to hear from you again! Thanks and I am excited for this thread.
User avatar
NorthWest
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:07 am

Being without knowledge in the field, between the second half of 20s and the first 30s, FS tested various models of railcars, trying different kinds of engines and transmissions. Someones were only road trucks modified to be used on rails, as the Narizzano railcars derived from 18BL Fiat lorries, but others born yet as trains, as a DWK unit fuelled with a mix of gasoline and naphta and provided of mechanical gearbox or the four ones built by Fiat with Brown Boveri electric transmission.
Apart other ones, two interesting prototypes were proved: a French railcar made by Michelin and having tyres on the wheels, and an Austro-Daimler unit that had rubber tyres between wheel centers and rims. Neither the first nor the second one were considered suitable for FS needs.

The Narizzano railcars were a simple adaptation to the rails of 18BL trucks.
They were used on secondary lines in Tuscany but resulted too much light for the rude railway use.
narizzanotipoi.jpg


The famous "Micheline" (little Michelle), from the builder's name. It was similar in concept (and in appearance) to an articulated lorry. The scope of the tyres was to increase adherence, but to bear the weight, were needed more wheels and a light body; more, tyres were wearing out very quickly.
2012-11-04-0000-Sortie Train Aeroclub.jpg


Austro-Daimler firm sent one of their railcars in a presentation tour around various countries. In Italy it was tested not only by FS but also by FNM; the scope of the tyre between rim and wheel was to improve travel comfort but the vehicle resulted too much rigid because of the absence of other forms of shock absorbing. More, engines demonstrated to be very prone to burn. The unit that came in Italy caught fire during the return journey.
VT63_Prototyp_AustroModell_DSC_3319_kl.png


Images from internet. Unknown author.

Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:33 am

The last attempt to transfer road vehicles technology to the rails was the couple of ALb 25 that, together with two trailers, Fiat built at the beginning of the 30s for the Cerignola città-Cerignola campagna line.
Basically they were buses with iron wheels, even they had ladders to put suitcases on the top. Moved by a 55 kw engine through a 4 speeds mechanical gearbox, these small units were unidirectional and had, under the chassis, a small turntable that could be lowered to the track to prepare the railcar for the return journey.
They brought a wind of modernity in that short line but, after only few years, the scarce capacity joint with the need of turning at each end made ALb 25 replaced by other units.

An ALb 25 and its trailer in an official photo from the Fiat historical center.
Image from the book of D. Molino and S. Pautasso "Le automotrici della prima generazione", Edizioni Elledi 1983.
tren.jpg

Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:34 am

From 1932 Italian industries defined some features that became constant for the first generation railcars: a light and strong girder structure, aerodynamic shape, two (apart few early classes) engines put on the trucks to avoid transmitting vibrations to the body, radiators on the front ends, only one powered axle each truck, tanks and auxiliaries under the floor freeing nearly all the body space apart the two engine cowls in the cabs.
What resulted were self propelled vehicles, lightweight, speedy and with an excellent acceleration, that demonstrated to be good horses not only for local stopping services but also for high level rapid journeys.
Fault of experience, the first models tried different lengths and number of seats, from 48 to 80, but quickly resulted that the better amount was between 50 and 60 so various classes of first generation railcars received 56 seats that, with the FS classification system, complicated a little the naming.
In the first half of the decade it was preferred the gasoline engine because of its higher specific power but, due to cost savings and its tendency to burn, from 1936 diesel engine became normal (apart some prototypes that we will see).

Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby NorthWest » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Thanks, Benny. Seems that the bus-on-rails is the first step in railcar development all over the world.
User avatar
NorthWest
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:18 am

From 1933 Fiat began production of railcars typified by rounded front ends, curvy lower profiles, fenders on the wheels, protruding radiators and absence of separation between vestibules and driving cabs. All were moved by 6-cylinders engines, gasoline or diesel and developing around 90 kw each one, through automotive-derived mechanical gearboxes and multi-disc clutches.
One of first units was presented during the foundation ceremony of the new city of Littoria (now Latina, south of Rome) and nicknamed by Mussolini "littorina". The nick became successful and passed to be used by general public as synonym of every kind of railcar; still today you can hear old people telling "I've to take the littorina to go there... ".
These were the various models made by Fiat for FS until 1937, with the help of the explanation at the beginning of the thread you can know the features of each class.
ALb 48.101 to 115 only one engine.
ALb 64.101 to 148 only one engine.
ALb 80.101 to 110 the biggest ones.
ALn 56.1001 to 1110
ALb 56.101 to 150
ALn 40.1001 to 1025 big units with lower seats density and kitchen for high level services.
In 1935 Fiat produced three van-railcars and, during the years, transformed some other units for mixed passenger/mail/groupage use but this kind of vehicle never has been very successful. The strangest ones have been three ALb 64 transformed in refrigerated vans for quick fish transport.
Many of these littorinas survived after WW II, someone ceded to private railroads, and the last ones were retired at the beginning of the 70s.
It has to be noted that during WW II and until the 60s various gasoline railcars, because of fault of fuel and its high cost, were transformed to use CNG with modifications of the engines, strengthening of the chassis and placing of the gas cylinders under the floor.

A snowy image of ALb 80.104, the biggest of the first generation railcars, still with the early classification of AUTO 80.04. With a similar vehicle, Fiat made a promotional tour in Eastern Europe that, after the change of bogies, took the littorina also to Moscow, where its top speed of 130 km/h astonished the highest levels of USSR government. Photo by Fiat historical center from the book of D. Molino and S. Pautasso "Le automotrici della prima generazione", Edizioni Elledi 1983.
img032.jpg


During the 30s, an ALb 40 is leaving Milan main station with an express service to Turin. Note the mechanical signals that remained on use until the end of the 70s. Photo by Fiat historical center, from the book of D. Molino and S. Pautasso "Le automotrici della prima generazione", Edizioni Elledi 1983.
img030.jpg


ALn 56.1024 is running on the Sardinia dorsal line between Sassari and Chilivani in 1955. Photo by transport ministry courtesy of Photorail.
ALn56FIAT-0024 copia.jpg


Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:21 am

Some more images.

An unidentified ALb 64, still in service in 1962, is waiting passengers for the next run on the Monselice to Legnago line.
Class writing on the image is wrong. Photo by M. Diotallevi courtesy of Photorail.
ALn56FIAT-0011 copia.jpg


The strangest vehicles derived from the littorinas: the three refrigerated (by ice) railcars for fish transport. Here ALHb 64.116. The units maintained the same numbering of the original ones with, more, the H that means refrigerated wagon. They were mainly used on Chioggia to Milan journeys and were painted silver. Photo by FS phototeque, from the book of D. Molino and S. Pautasso "Le automotrici della prima generazione", Edizioni Elledi 1983.
img031.jpg


A couple of powered bogies for ALn 56.1000. Only the inner axles were powered, through telescopic joints and reduction/invertion gearings. Photo by G. Masino, from the book of D. Molino and S. Pautasso "Le automotrici della prima generazione", Edizioni Elledi 1983.
img033.jpg


Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby NorthWest » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:56 pm

Ah, the classic Fiat railcars. Interesting that there were some designed for higher level services as I've always associated them with the branch line services that they ended up on.

Fiat exported several similar cars elsewhere. The shot of Milano Centrale is interesting to me, as it looks completely different now!
User avatar
NorthWest
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:16 am

NorthWest wrote:Ah, the classic Fiat railcars. Interesting that there were some designed for higher level services as I've always associated them with the branch line services that they ended up on.

Fiat exported several similar cars elsewhere. The shot of Milano Centrale is interesting to me, as it looks completely different now!


Wait for the next chapter and you will read something well interesting about express units.

Sorry, my friend, but I think you are wrong. In 80 years Milano Centrale station has changed not so dramatically. Now there are electric traction and new signals, platforms are longer and the wagon lifts disappeared, but the typical canopy and the tracks plan remain the same. Also the old switching towers, no longer on use, are still there. The only part that has changed very much is the ticketing/shopping area, but this is inside the building.

Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby NorthWest » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:23 pm

Ah, I think that it is where the picture is taken from. It looks like it is from outside the roof, where I have never been except on the platforms where the baggage elevators were.
User avatar
NorthWest
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:10 am

Shortly after their introduction, it was realized that railcars, because of their speed and acceleration as well as their modernity, should be excellent vehicles for high level express services, as demonstrated by the ALn 40 class. From 1928 FS was wiring at 3000V DC the main arteries (and for these lines, Breda was creating the celebrated ETR 200) but some plain very important lines, as the corridor Turin-Milan-Venice and the adriatic one, were not expected to be wired because of military and economic reasons. In case of overcrowding, use of more than a railcar was not convenient because this multiplied crews so Fiat created in 1936 an articulated railcar, or DMU, composed of three bodies over four bogies, that became Auto Treno Rapido (rapid self-propelled train, ATR) 100.
ATR 101-109 were powered by two 275 kw diesel engines put on the extreme bogies and, through the classic clutches and mechanical gearboxes, movement passed to the inner axles of the same bogies. Originally the first body, apart driving place and engine cowl, was reserved for auxiliary services as current generator (moved by a third engine), mail and luggage compartments, kitchen and pantry; the central body was first class seats and the third one second class (until 1957 in Italy there have been three classes).
For the time they were luxury trains, with comfortable spacious seats, air conditioning and meals served at the seat.
During test runs ATR 101 reached 162 km/h (100 mph), at the time world record for endothermic powered rail vehicles, but emerged various problems: power not so exuberant and distributed on only two axles, bogies with low stability (the central body was twisting too much), braking not suitable for high speed (they had expansion brakes automotive derived), delicate engines that required the continuous presence of Fiat personnel, and various others.
Tests and tuning, with sporadic Turin-Milan services, lasted until 1940 but from that year, because of the WW2 and the consequent shortage of fuel, the nine ATR were dumped and their engines used to power navy boats.
Damaged by bombing, after the war only five trains (units 101, 103, 106, 107 and 108) can be repaired and in the meantime they were heavily modified. The first body was transformed for passenger use and air conditioning, kitchen, mail and luggage sites disappeared; the maximum speed was lowered to 120 km/h.
ATR 100s, assigned to Turin depot, were used for express services mainly to Milan with some runs to Bologna and Genoa to avoid time loosing due to the three-phase wiring but they were displaced from the last destination because the scarce power and difficulties in synchronization between the clutches made very difficult restarting after a stop on the uphill section.
Being the engine put on the bogie and due to the vibrations produced during the run, there were various fires generated by breaks in the hoses that leaked fuel on the hot heads. In 1957 one of these fires destroyed the first body of ATR 106; it was taken advantage of the recovery to transform the five ATR to first class only changing seats, interiors and painting (from the classic brown they became white and green as the upper level FS stock) but problems remained: low power, difficulties to start, fuel leaks, excessive consumption of fuel and oil (15 kg of lubricant each engine for the 300 km of a Turin-Milan and return!), continuous presence of well payed Fiat technicians, brakes overheating....
In the evening of June 3 1961, during a journey between Turin and Milan, ATR 106 caught another time in flames. After being stopped at Rho station it was quickly evacuated but, despite the fire brigade intervention, it was completely destroyed.
This became the final act of the ATR 100s story. They were retired from service and scrapped writing the word end to the story of this fascinating but problematic and dangerous trains.

The first of the class: ATR 101 leaving the Fiat factory in Turin in 1936. The train is in the original layout, with the first body, at the back in this image, used for on-train services.
Photo by Fiat historical center, courtesy of Photorail.
atr100-5bis.jpg


Instead, in this image of 1959 was immortalized ATR 108 in its last version: only first class seats, the three bodies used for passengers, no air conditioning and the smart white and green painting. The shot was taken in Turin Smistamento depot and it's easily recognizable the complicated three-phase catenary.
Photo by Transport Ministry, courtesy of Photorail.
ATR100-0088 copia.jpg


An image of the cramped ATR 100 driving post. Note the big chimney on the right, typical of the ATRs. Photo by Fiat historical center, from the book of C. Pedrazzini ATR 100, Tuttostoria publishing 1976.
img039.jpg


Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby NorthWest » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:08 am

Very interesting. High speed articulated trains evolved in the US from branchline railcars, including those of EMC, the foundation of the powerhouse EMD. Most didn't survive longer than these cars, and many were scrapped for the war effort as some were here. Thanks!
User avatar
NorthWest
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby David Benton » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:17 am

New Zealand's biggest railcar class were nicknamed the "fiats", after their Fiat underfloor engines.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NZR_RM_class_(88_seater).
Despite been unreliable, and prone to catching fire , they were the mainstay of rural services from the 1950's to the early 80's.
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.
User avatar
David Benton
 
Posts: 7868
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:29 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: The Italian way of railcars

Postby Benny » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:14 pm

NorthWest wrote:Very interesting. High speed articulated trains evolved in the US from branchline railcars, including those of EMC, the foundation of the powerhouse EMD. Most didn't survive longer than these cars, and many were scrapped for the war effort as some were here. Thanks!



Articulated trains are really interesting but have various defects, in first the rigid composition. I like them but need to admit that, in the self propelled vehicles field, a rake of railcars and trailers in multiple control is far more flexible and can be better tailored to the needs of the service.

Ciao :wink:
Alcohol is an enemy. Man that escapes from the enemy is a coward!
User avatar
Benny
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:51 pm
Location: Lima (Perú)

Next

Return to Worldwide Railfan

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests