• The FS light electric vehicles

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by Benny
(... continues}
In first assigned to Bologna, Rome and Naples for "Rapido" services along adriatic line, Rome-Reggio Calabria, Rome-Foggia-Bari and Rome-Ancona (also with a strange Rome-Ancona-Rimini-Bologna), from mid-60s our railcars were displaced to Turin, Milan and Mestre (Venice) depots and covered a large web of" Rapido", "Direttissimo" and "Diretto" services on nearly every electrified line of northern Italy, sometimes mixed with other classes. Here a direct Turin-Savona service at Santuario, on the descent to the Liguria Coast
Instead the Bologna units became a typical sight on the "diretto" services to Ancona, Genoa and Venice.
With the progressive coming of new classes, ALe 540/660 lost the most important services but were still useful and very valued by passengers. In the 80s the Turin units were transferred to Trieste (services on the triangle between there, the Tarvisio border and Vicenza), as can be seen in this image of a Udine-Vicenza service,
and Leghorn (all around the region); an interesting service made by the tuscan units was the "Freccia dell'Elba" (Elba arrow) that connected Florence with the ferries to the island at Piombino Marittima and gave them the opportunity to arrive on the boarding pier (and one time the train, luckily empty, made splash!).
From 1990 all units were concentrated in Mestre and Bologna and used until the new millennium. The few remaining motors were then used singly for a little time more on the short lines around Novi Ligure and from 2002 the last brown railcars were extinct, apart ALe 540.010 and 030 that, jointly with a Le 840, were used by Trieste railway museum for tours along the "unknown tracks" of the city until the end of the permitted mileage; they are now in the museum area, the old Campo Marzio station, waiting for an unlikely overhaul.

As a curiosity, during the service from Mestre depot, as trailers were used too some strange vehicles with luxurious interior and without cabs. These ones were no less than the intermediate trailers of the ALn 442/448 TEE DMUs. Originally they had to be a M+R+M rake but, after testing, it appeared that trailers were too much heavy for the steeply lines to the borders and so the four ones built were converted into electric trailers, repainted in brown and assigned to Mestre depot as Le 602.001-004.
Images courtesy of :
Photorail.it, probably the best Italian site for railroad photography
Stefano Paolini
Franco Pepe

Ciao :wink:
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  by Pensyfan19
I believe an ETR 250 has recently been restored two days ago. Can anyone confirm that this was restored on July 1st, or has it already been running for sometime before this?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ernesto_i ... 065121383/
  by Benny
It has been presented on June 27 at Roma Tiburtina station.
I don't know the later movements but surely before of that day it ran various test journeys.
Next chapter of this topic will be precisely dedicated to the "harlequins".

Ciao :wink:
  by NorthWest
Is it weird that I prefer the blunt-end version?
  by Benny
NorthWest wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:03 pm Is it weird that I prefer the blunt-end version?
Me too.

Ciao :wink:
  by Benny
To cope with high level tourists coming in Italy for the 1960 Olympics, Breda built four "elettrotreni", classified as ETR 251-254.
ETR 250s Fi-Rm 60s.jpg
These ones were four-bodies trains on six bogies and received the same innovative front ends of the Settebello with their panoramic parlor and the overhead driving cabs; the outer bodies and one of the inner ones were arranged as open saloons with very comfortable armchairs
and the other intermediate hosted luggage room, pantry and kitchen for at seat dining.
The nickname of the class, Arlecchino (Harlequin), seems born because of the different colours of the interiors of each vehicle, like the suit of the traditional character.
The wheel arrangement was Bo-2-Bo+2-2-Bo and the total power exceeded the 1300 Kw. Maximum speed was fixed in 160 km/h but many times they run nearly 190 km/h.
The traction equipment was partly derived from the Settebello one but the new Z1040 bogies were far more performing and will be later installed under the other classes of ETRs.

It follows...
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  by Benny
From July 23 1960 Harlequins, assigned to Milano Centrale depot, began the "Freccia del Vesuvio" (Vesuvius Arrow) rapido service between Milan, Rome and Naples. Then, during the Olympic Games, were mainly used to displace tourists and sports enthusiasts between the eternal city and the Campania's capital and the following year were useful to move visitors of the Turin's "Italia 61" International exhibition that admired their modern and audacious design.
Later, ETR 250s were put in a common shift with ETR 220s but as first choice for some services (e.g. the Florence-Venice or the train that followed at block distance the Settebello when the Milan airport was closed because of heavy fog).
Around 1970 the class was upgraded to reach 200 km/h (electrodynamic braking and on-board signals repeating) and followed on with its work, made of journeys on the Genoa-Milan-Venice - Trieste as showed in this magnificent image of two ETR 250 running in front of the Chiaravalle Abbey going to Genoa taken by my good fellow and mentor Roberto Trionfini in 1978
2 ETR 250s Chiaravalle 1978 Trionfini.jpg
Or this other of an Harlequin and a Poliphemus entering Milano Centrale Station after a run from Venice, taken in 1983 by my friend Gianni Demuru,
on the Venice-Florence, Genoa-Rome and, until the birth of Grand Comfort hauled coaches, their original service Milan-Naples.
Many times those services were made by two (when not three) trainsets because of the high patronage, in spite of the first class, rapido supplement and compulsory reservation needed, and so the panoramic parlor of the second ETR lost importance but people and drivers appreciated very much these trains (my friend Angelo Passerini, a driver that for many years worked on ETRs, one time told that driving at high speed from the elevated cabs gave him an incredible sensation of freedom, like a bird).
Following the "democratization" of high level services, the consequent need of second class seats and the increased patronage, in 1986 the class was retired from normal work, restructured with second class and the third body transformed for passengers use and destined to charter services but this "new life" saw not much use; between the few services I remember some Milan to Calabria runs, payed by Southern Coast hotels, to take holidaymakers there, or few journeys for a Slovenian casino with a roulette in the belvedere, as documented by Roberto Trionfini.
ETR 250 C.le 1992 Trionfini.jpg
At the end of the 90s all Harlequins were dumped and three were quickly demolished. The sole survivor, ETR 252, has been recently restored as when new and now is in the hands of historical foundation of FS.

Images courtesy of:
FS phototeque
Roberto and Stefano Trionfini
Photorail.it, probably the best Italian site for railroad photography
Gianni Demuru

Ciao :wink:
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  by Benny
In 1961, when train was still the favourite transport system and Italy was in full economic growth, born the last class of electric railcars and trailers in the classic sense of the term, the most elegant and comfortable and, very important, my preferred FS stock, the beautiful ALe 601.
This class was the answer to the need of high level light stock for long distance, multiple destinations services. The single elements made easier vary composition of trains to adapt to the peaks and useful for those services in which, halfway, there was the need of separate/join parts of the train.
The new Z1040 bogies and the comfortable interiors made that, during a ORE test in which was measured the time after which the traveller felt himself tired, resulted 20 hours in vertical movements and 12 hours in horizontal ones at 180 km/h!.
Long more than 27 m. and hosting 60 passengers, ALe 601s were powered by four new T 165 traction motors each one giving an hourly power of 248 Kw, later increased to 277. The same bogies and motors equipped the ETR 250s and substituted the original ones in ETR 220s and 300s.
With their clean and sophisticated design and the ample windows that favoured a bright interior, the class was painted with the then new "pearl grey and magnolia green" livery common to the superior level stock.

From 1961 was built a first series, ALe 601.001-021, characterised by a single front door to cover the bellows, similarly to the third series ALe 540s as can be seen in this image taken in Milano Centrale Station in 1965 by my mentor Roberto Trionfini.
Their top speed was 180 km/h and in 1969 seven units will be upgraded to 200.
In 1965 started the building of the second series, ALe 601.022-044, still with a top speed of 180 km/h.
Because of the difficult moving of the first series front door, these units were equipped with two sliding-plug front doors that helped very much the daily operations, as showed in this image taken by my friend Gianni Demuru to the Bozen-Rome connection,
and the older units were modified in this manner. Finally, from 1971, were built ALe 601.045-065, the third series, called Alta Velocità (high speed) because capable of 200 km/h and equipped with rheostatic braking.
In these last units, the cab windscreens (and the front doors windows) were smaller to increase resistance against birds or whatever hurts the front ends as in this unit caught leaving Trieste.
Windscreens of the previous units were so modified.
In 1979 two trailers were transformed into ALe 601.066-067 to replace two motors destroyed in a big crash.

Along the years, joint with the motors, were built also various driving trailers with different layout to comply with the different needs of the service:
Le 360.001-002 restaurant with 36 seats and bar. After few years the bar was eliminated and the units entered into the Le 480 class.
Le 420.001-004 restaurant with 42 seats and a bigger kitchen. In 1979 two units were transformed into motors. The remnant two ones were, in 1985, rebuilt as Le 530.001-2 with 53 first class seats and a refreshments area.
Le 480.001-011 restaurant with 48 seats.
Le 481.001-009 with an ample luggage room and 48 first class seats.
Le 601.001-025 offering 60 first class seats. Some units were later transformed into Le 481.
Le 700.001-010 with a refreshing area and 70 second class seats.
Partly without air conditioning.
Le 780.001-019 with 78 second class seats. Partly without air conditioning.
It follows....
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  by Benny
Second part
The main depot of the class has been, for nearly all its life, Rome San Lorenzo with smaller allocations at Turin and Milan.
From the capital they made the most prestigious trains: the Aurora Rome-Reggio Calabria, the Peloritano that was ferried to Sicily and was composed of two sections for Palermo and Catania-Siracusa, the Tirreno Rome-Turin and the best known Freccia della Laguna (lagoon arrow) that ran from Rome to Bologna in the maximum composition of 9 pieces between motors and trailers (derogating the norm of no more than 8 units for light stock trains) as shown in this splendid image.
Here a motor and a trailer separated and took the Brenner line until Bozen. The rest of the train followed on the line to Padua and Venice but at Mestre another section (normally an Ale, a first class trailer and a restaurant) left and gone to Udine. The remaining units, two motors and two trailers, arrived at Venice, returned to Mestre and ran until Trieste. The contrary manoeuvres were made during the return journey.
Services to Pescara, Ancona, Bari and Naples completed the rule.
The Milan Greco ALe 601s were instead used on some Genoa/Turin -Milan-Venice-Trieste services, here shooted by Roberto Trionfini entering Milano Centrale in 1980,
and to do what the drivers nicknamed "the bomb", a non-stop service between Milan and Rome that had an average speed of 140 km/h and, at the time, was the fastest Italian train (joint with a Rome-Naples made by the roman sisters).
To be noted that, during the best part of of its career, milanese politician Bettino Craxi required that an ALe 601 and a trailer, payed by us, stay permanently at Greco depot for him in case the airport was closed.
The Turin units were employed for some direct services to Milan, Bologna, Genoa, Savona and Ventimiglia; the most interesting were probably some trains that ran from the Piedmont capital to Tortona, joined a section coming from Genoa and together followed to Bologna as can be seen in this image taken in 1989 at Stradella by Roberto Trionfini.
From the beginning and along their career ALe 601s were used for tests about high speed and its effects.
In 1985, during a run with the highest FS management on board, ALe 601.060, 064 and 065 touched 278 km/h,, Italian railway speed record until the birth of the new high speed trains.

During the years some of their most important trains were so successful that needed the conversion to loco-hauled rakes (the last one, the Marco Polo (new name of the Freccia della Laguna) was so well patronised that in 1995 even needed to be divided into three separate trains) but our nice railcars still were busy, especially on the southern routes.
From 1992 to 1994 some four-cars trainsets in a dedicated livery made the so-called "surface flights" between Florence or Naples and Rome Fiumicino Airport on behalf of Alitalia, the national air company, but the service is not very successful and, after two years, was cut.
It re-follows...
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  by Benny
Third part.
After the sectorization of stock, ALe 601s were assigned to the regional fleet and in the second half of the 90s left Rome (the other allocations were dissolved some years before) to Ancona, here "walking" near the maritime station,
Mestre and Palermo where made their last IC trains on behalf of the passenger division and, mainly, local trains.
Born for a completely different use , our railcars had slam doors and limited seating, not exactly the top for local services, so FS transformed 32 motors and 32 trailers into 4-cars EMUs with sliding doors, the substitution of intermediate ends with plain ones, new interiors, new cables and new gear ratio. They were classified as ALe 841+Le 581+Le 761+ALe 841.
As this option resulted very expensive for the estimated lifetime of the stock, in 2003 three more sets were transformed with minor changes: emptied and closed the intermediate cabs, new interiors and some different electrical components. These ones were classified as ALe 783+Le 813+Le 813+ALe 783.
As someone understood that it was "therapeutic persistence", transformations terminated and the trainsets were employed from Rome (later Ancona) and Palermo.
ALe 841.015+016 and trailers were caught at Tusa, on the magnificent line to Messina,
Still at the end of the 90s, ALe 601.064 and 065 with gear ratio for 250 km/h joint with two trailers were used for two train control systems testing sets.
ALe 601.064 and its trailer wait next run at Chivasso stabling point.
Finally the last non-transformed ALe 601, in the horrible xmpr livery, were retired in 2006, instead the three ALe 783 sets lasted only three years more and the 841 EMUs, after the expensive rebuilding, worked just until 2013, due to the general lowering of maintenance of FS stock too.
So finished one of the nicest pages of the italian railways history; eight units in original condition between motors and trailers were preserved but lightly used. After their running licence expired, they are hopefully waiting for a general overhaul.

Images courtesy of:
Roberto and Stefano Trionfini
Gianni Demuru
Stefano Paolini
Photorail.it, probably the best Italian site for railroad photography.

Ciao :wink:
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  by Benny
With the improving economic situation and the transformation from a pretty agricoltural to an industrial country, at the end of the 50s the commuters social phenomenon started rising very strongly.
FS had not suitable stock with high capacity and good acceleration for the stopping trains that carried workers into the cities so, from the ALe 601 excellent project, was derived a trainset composed of a motor unit with a single driving cab (ALe 803), an intermediate trailer (Le 803.1) and a driving one again with only a cab (Le 803.0). Each one of the three elements had 80 (cramped) seats and three ample folding doors per side to speed up the passengers movement.
To be noted the change in FS philosophy: due to the more or less fixed rakes and the time loosing operations of bellows coupling/uncoupling, the single railcars and trailers concept was abandoned in favour of the EMU one gaining space where there was no need for a cab and using tubular bellows (the so-called bourrelets) between elements of the set. The front ends had big doors like the first series of ALe 601 that were quickly replaced by a never used service passage and later sealed.
The first series, built from 1961, was divided in two subseries:
ALe 803.001-020 with classic hook couplings and buffers.
ALe 803.021-035, destined to the Naples urban service, with Scharfenberg automatic couplers and half seats to improve the standing passengers accommodation.
The power units had the same bogies and traction motors of ALe 601 but geared for 130 km/h and, terminated the brown era, the sets were painted in a smart cream and red livery.
Put in service in the big cities (Rome, Naples, Genoa and Milan) our EMUs resulted good horses for the heavy commuters service and in 1973 came a second series, ALe 803.036-053, that initially were mounted on the bogies that were taken off from ETRs during the their repowering but, as those ones demonstrated to be not very suitable for hard stopping service, In occasion of general overhauls were mounted new bogies like the first series.
Second series was immediately recognisable because of the two doors for the gangway. Never used, were later sealed too.

In the 80s, after the birth of new EMU classes, many sets were displaced to other places (the Naples ones received the complete seating) and not always used for correct services
e. g. a three hours Tirano-Milan on the cramped accommodation studied for short journeys with no space for legs
is a refined masochistic experience.
From the second half of the 90s the livery changed to the horrible xmpr one and the urban bus-style seats were changed to more modern ones but they compelled the travellers to a so bad position that a backache was assured.
The class followed with its obscure work but from the second half of the 2000s sets began to be sidelined. With the scarce maintenance that characterized the Trenitalia managing style (I travelled in a set with only 7 working doors out of 18) and the coming of newer classes, the last set was retired in 2015 from the Lecco depot.
No units have been preserved.
Two curiosities: eight second series sets were built with two intermediate trailers but were quickly normalized because the third trailer penalised too much the acceleration.
As the overhaul time of the motors was different from the time for trailers, for some years circulated push-pull trains composed of a E 424 locomotive, two or three intermediate trailers and a driving one, obviously used only with phone connection to instruct the second driver on the loco.
Image taken by Roberto Trionfini at Cremona in 1980.

Images courtesy of:
John Tolson
Stefano Paolini
Stefano and Roberto Trionfini
Photorail.it, probably the best site for Italian railway photography.

Ciao :wink:
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  by Benny
An important factor that limits the train speed in a curve is centrifugal force that, after a certain limit, can be problematic for passengers. This is why in many curves the external rail is elevated. During the 60s many European railroad operators were interested in tilting systems as a manner to increase speed in sinuous lines where it was impossible or not convenient rectify the layout.
Various kinds of tilting were tested but fundamentally there are only two "philosophies": passive, in which is the centrifugal force that command the inclination like in the Spanish Talgo Pendular or the Swedish X 15, and active, in which there are sensors that "feel" the curve and control the tilting mechanism like in the system developed by Fiat Ferroviaria.
In 1971 the firm, in cooperation with FS and UIC, built a little known electric railcar, named Y 0160, that never entered in the national operator stock list but has been a testbed for the many components of the system becoming the mother of the later tilting fleet not only in Italy but also in various other countries.
The railcar was nearly 28 m. long and ran on two short bogies of 2200 mm, each one with only one axle powered by a traction motor fixed on the body through a cardan shaft (1A-A1).
The total hourly power was 742 Kw with a top speed of 250 km/h.
As can be seen in the drawing, sensors control hydraulic actuators that incline the body to compensate the centrifugal force but it's needed a contrary aggregate to maintain the pantograph perpendicular to the track.
The railcar was extensively tryed for five years, until 1976, when FS received the first "pendolino", the famous ETR 401 that we will see later, and then dumped at the Savigliano Fiat Ferroviaria factory.
At the beginning of the 80s it was destined to Museo Ferroviario Piemontese but was scrapped before being transferred there.

Images courtesy of
Centro Storico Fiat

Ciao :wink:
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  by Benny
With the continuous increase in commuters traffic it was needed a new trainset for medium-sized flows and in 1976 born a new class of EMUs composed of a driving motor with 94 seats (ALe 940), two intermediate trailers with 108 seats each one (Le 108) and another driving motor with 80 seats and a luggage area (ALe 801} that were immediately nicknamed "Fanta" because of the orange/yellow livery that recalled the famous orange beverage.
Built in 65 sets, technically they were an updated version of the previous ALe 803 with only two vestibules per element, sliding-plug doors and flatter front ends. This has been the last class to have front doors to connect with other sets; they were later sealed because never used.
More, this has been the last class of EMUs to use classic rheostatic electrical equipment.
The high number of seats was obtained using a very cramped module between seats, only 1500 mm, and the front units were equipped with scharfenberg couplers to speed up the joining/separation of sets.
Put in service around Genoa, Turin, Milan, Venice and Rome, Fantas passed all their operating life on regional services.
An anecdote: when, at the end of the 90s, they were repainted in xmpr livery, between the railfans circulated the joke that "Fanta became Sprite".
From the end of the 2000s they were gradually retired with the last set operating until 2917. Later two sets were ceded to the granted railroad Trasporto Ferroviario Toscano (new name of the old LFI) that still uses them.
No units have been preserved.

Images courtesy of
Stefano Paolini
Photorail.it, probably the best Italian site for railroad photography.

Ciao. :wink:
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  by Benny
Hey? Are you still alive? :-D

Having acquired good experience with the prototype Y 0160, FS in the first half of the 70s placed an order to Fiat Ferroviaria for some tilting ETRs.
Between 1975 and 76 born ETR 401, a four bodies 250 km/h set on eight bogies that inherited solutions more proper to the diesel railcars produced by the same firm: the traction motors were fixed to the body and the hourly power of 2200 Kw was transmitted by cardan shafts to the inner axles of each bogie. immediately started tests but in the meantime the political wind turned against high speed (and freight) services that were myopically seen as intolerable obstacles to the "poor" commuters traffic so FS had to cancel the order for more sets and the first, original Pendolino remained a unique specimen.
From July 1976 it was put on commercial duty (first active tilting train in the world to be put in public service) on the difficult Rome-Ancona line and later prolonged to Rimini but, being a single set, it was used only three or four days a week leaving the other days for test runs and maintenance.
(photo by Maurizio Messa)
To be noted that the timetable was calculated on the substitute ETR 220 that, being non-tilting, needed a
longer time so, when Pendolino was on use, passengers gained more than half an hour on the journey.
After an FS return of interest for tilting technology and the Fiat need to advert its product in other countries, in 1983 ETR 401 was retired from commercial use and destined, as laboratory train, to test the new components for the tilting trains that FS, with a ten years delay, finally was ordering, apart the many presentation and testing journeys made in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Jugoslavia.
From the beginning of the 90s, terminated its work as testbed, it was overhauled and lost the elegant grey and blue livery for the horrible xmpr one before being destined to the Charter Fleet. During summer of 1996 and 97 it was hired by Calabria tourism office to bring holidaymakers to the southern beaches and liveried as "train of the sun"
but reliability problems and the scarce use made that, in the first half of the 2000s, it has been dumped.

ETR 401 is now in the hands of FS historic foundation.
In 2013 half train has been cosmetically restored and is stored in Milan, instead the second half is still dumped in Ancona.

To be complete it has to be remembered the so-called Platanito (banana).
The Spanish operator RENFE was even interested in tilting technology to improve journey times on its curvy lines so ordered a train very similar to ETR 401 and classified as class 443.
In service between 1976 and 1994, it had a similar life to the italian brother: many tests and little public services not helped by a scarce reliability and the bad situation of the Spanish tracks.

Images courtesy of:
Maurizio Messa
Donato Rossi
Luca Occelli
Photorail.it, probably the best Italian site for railroad photography.

Ciao :wink:
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