• The Italian way of railcars

  • 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 NorthWest
That's interesting that they stepped backwards. Strange.
  by Benny
Not so strange if you know the italian way of public management, unfortunately... :(

Ciao :wink:
  by Benny
Nearly at the same time of 1200s, FS ordered more than one hundred railcars with the same body of the former ones but moved by the turbocharged engines of the 1000 series. Building began but only 40 units (ALn 668.3001-3040) born, because a little revolution happened.
For the first time in approximately fifty years the unions accepted the use of multiple control on three railcars instead of two (and the use of it on locomotives) so the new units were built for triple traction and, to distinguish, classified as ALn 668.3101-3250. To be noted that the 3 digit was theoretically reserved to the OM built units but this firm left the railroad business many years before and it was needed to expand the numbering.

The 3000s were assigned to Cuneo, Catanzaro and Palermo, but later were concentrated in Sicily. The class is still operational, apart one written off after an accident, but their use is diminishing.

In july 2001 my friend S. Paolini caught ALn 668.3012 arriving at Licata station, on the Ragusa to Agrigento southern Sicily line.
66830xx-140701licata copia.jpg
The 3100s instead were assigned to depots serving lines with higher patronizing as Turin, Novara, Siena, Rome, Benevento and Cagliari.
With the coming of other DMUs the series has been redistributed with smaller lots sparse in many depots along the entire boot with stronger amounts in Siena and Fabriano.
Also this class is still on use, because of bad working of more modern classes too, but their use is being reduced because the regions, that pay for local services, don't want vehicles without disabled people access.

The same author shooted a nice triplet of 3100s leaving Macerata, on the Civitanova Marche-Fabriano line, in 2015.
The two images courtesy of Photorail.

Ciao :wink:
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  by Benny
The Sulmona depot provided traction to three of the most difficult non wired lines in Italy: the Terni-Sulmona, the Avezzano-Roccasecca and above all the Sulmona-Carpinone, nicknamed the italian trans siberian, that reaches 1268 asl (Rivisondoli, second highest station in Italy after Brenner) with slopes until 3,5% and very bad winter conditions.
As the service was mainly railcars operated, Fiat produced a short-geared version of the 3100s to better work on the ramps.
The ALn 668.3301-3340 were the last units of this long-built class that FS received and the only ones that left the factory yet with the 170 kW engines.
Entirely assigned to Sulmona, they were beloved by drivers because of their performance.
But from 2008 the Terni-L'Aquila stretch has been subcontracted to another operator (that now, ridiculously, is bus branch of FS) which is using his own stock and more important, the Sulmona-Carpinone has been closed in 2011 because of the low patronage and high costs (the territory is really little populated but road conditions and the tourism potential suggest a better management of the railroad) so the "climbers" saw a big contraction of their use and many migrated to Benevento depot, from where, sometimes, return on their own line in occasion of special tourist events.

ALn 668.3306 was caught arriving at the ski resort of Roccaraso in 1994. The railway has never been taken into account to develop ski business.

ALn 668.3321 instead was leaving Cansano station in 1995. The Sulmona-Carpinone line runs in a magnificent landscape and has a strong potential for tourism but it has never been exploited.
6683321-170594cansano2 copia.jpg
Ciao :wink:
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Last edited by Benny on Mon May 28, 2018 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by NorthWest
Looks like these cars were built without the cured front glass. At least an improvement over the last series, though!

Thanks for all these details.
  by Benny
Really all the ALn 668s with the squared front ends were built with curvy glasses and were later modified with plain ones. Being a work made by various entities (depots, workshops) there can be differences between units.

Ciao :wink:
  by Benny
In the beginning of the 80s Fiat at last projected a complete restyling of the 668s and in 1983 born the first ALn 663. This new model uses the mechanical part of the former 3100s with new angled front ends, easier to build and repair, and new interiors based on the seats and wall decor from the MDVE coaches; an augmentation of the space between seats and a slightly different layout made the loose of five seats giving the new classification ALn 663.
Two subseries were built: ALn 663.1001-1016 with a shorter gear ratio and capable of 120 km/h and ALn 663.1101-1204 with the normal one and capable of 130 km/h.

These railcars are widespread all over Italy, having substituted older sisters but, as the last series of 668s, their use is decreasing because of the not so easy access and lower "appeal" against newer DMUs in front of the regional transport authorities.

In 1993 S. Paolini caught ALn 663.1160 arriving in Mondovì station with a local service from Cuneo.
From the ALn 663 project Fiat, following a request of Justice Ministry, produced five jail railcars for prisoners transport, obviously armored and without the passage between units. FS mantained the units, that are classified ALn DAP (Dipartimento di Amministrazione Penitenziaria or prisons administration department) on behalf of the Ministry but the driving was entrusted to the military railway regiment (Genio Ferrovieri).
After some years, in 2005, when the DAPs needed heavy overhaul, the Justice Ministry had no money for it so these railcars were sidelined and
the prisoners transport gone to road!!

During a railway event at Milan Smistamento depot in 2003 it was exhibited also ALn DAP 003. Photo by S. Paolini.
Images courtesy of Photorail.

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  by NorthWest
Ah, so the solution was to removed the curves on the front entirely! I think the prison car looks better than the rest, but I understand why they normally need the front doors.
  by Benny
johnthefireman wrote:I love that last photo. Ocean, castle and train. Beautiful.
To John and everyone else that appreciated the Roseto Capo Spulico photo: at the beginning of the month two of the best Italian train photographers, Stefano Paolini and Giorgio Stagni, made two days of hunting along the Ionic Calabria. To view their work with many spectacular pictures of railcars you can click on this link.
http://www.photorail.it/forum/index.php?topic=18096.0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Have a good vision.

Ciao :wink:
  by Benny
After the last ALn 663s, FS don't bought DMUs for more than ten years and in the meantime many things changed: the regionalization of local services made that those entities could request new stock with different features; the building firms changed from tailored projects to standard modular platforms and, far more important for FS, Fiat sold its railway division to Alstom.
So, when at the beginning of the new century there has been the need for new multiple units, FS ordered vehicles from the Alstom Coradia Lint family in both electric and diesel versions that received the commercial name of Minuetto (minuet). These units are three-bodies articulated multiple units that are normally inseparable (the inner bogies are Jakobs ones) but FS classified separately each body so the trains result as ALn/ALe 501+Ln/Le 220+ALn/ALe 502 (ALe, Automotrice Leggera elettrica, is the denotation of the electric railcars, Le of their trailers) but, to semplify the day to day work, each unit received a number prefixed by MD or ME to distinguish minuetto diesel or electric.
The diesel version, that is the subject of the topic, has been built in 104 (plus 10 more for the Trentino region) units by Savigliano plant with components coming from various other ones, also outside Italy, and is powered by two Iveco 560 kW engines through Voith hydromechanic transmissions that give a maximum speed of 130 km/h.
The first units started testing in 2003 but serious problems with the traction electronics and mechanical parts retarded the start of the commercial services until 2005 (and made the class to be nicknamed "bidonetto", little garbage bin, instead of minuetto).
Serial production began but not all the teething problems were solved: the driving electronics make a "shaking" run incomfortable for passengers and bogies showed an abnormal wearing of the flanges not yet solutioned.
The class is still operational and, born in the XMPR livery, is being repainted in the new blue regional one.
Widespread from North to South, they mainly replaced the older ALn 668 series and are used for every kind of service but with a preference for the longer ones.

In a sunny spring morning of 2010 a Minuetto Diesel in the original XMPR livery is leaving the Alcamo Città station, on the Palermo to Trapani line of eastern Sicily.
Note the ancient small turntable in the foreground that served to send freight wagons on a private siding.
This nice photo shows a MD in the new regional division livery running in December 2016 on the Biella-Novara line with the splendid Monte Rosa (pink mountain) alpine group on the background.
This peak is so called because, in the clear sundowns, the sunlight gives it a pinky appearance.
The two images by S. Paolini courtesy of Photorail.

Ciao :wink:
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  by NorthWest
Oh yes, I've seen those.

It's nice that Alstom puts new faces on orders for different countries, rather than having a standard design for each platform. Probably costs more, but a little variety is nice.
  by Benny
The last DMUs that Trenitalia (the TOC of FS) bought are old acquaintances: the ill-famed Pesa Atribos.
In 2012 the Tuscany regional government wanted to improve the service on their non wired lines and selected (and partly bought) the Pesa products because of low cost and quick delivery. The "sapient" FS heads don't dissuaded politicians despite the heavy problems encountered by other railroads and instead acquired more units to give theoretical improvements in other regions.
The sixty Atribos in the hands of FS are classified (oh, blessed coherence!) as ATR 220. 001-060 and, following the trend of giving a commercial name to the train types, they are called Swing (really swing is tram equally produced by Pesa); these DMUs are slightly different from the ones of the granted railroads because FS required more power, a ridiculous 7kw more each engine, and the same Voith hydromechanic transmission of the Minuettos.
From 2014 the units began to be used but showed many problems at the safety, control and driving electronics, low power especially on the slopes and heavy wearing of the wheels. More, some parts don't fit with contract specifications and the engines resulted very sensitive.
And then, in 2016, the polish safety board sent an alert about the Atribos bogies and came the disaster. Nearly all the class resulted cracked, the worst ones were immediately stopped and the other ones followed working but with a short interval between ultrasonic tests (and this made that many older railcars destined to the scrap rest In service).
After many attempts a palliative solution has been sending the DMUs to a private workshop in Piacenza that disassemble the bogies and send them to Poland to be reinforced.
It's too early to see improvements and work is still in progress, I will inform about the news.
The class is working but reliability is still low, with many other problems still unresolved; a my contact inside the traction department told me just yesterday that every day five or six Atribos are in the workshops because of small or big failures, and apart the units stopped for the bogies reinforcement.
This is what happens when politicians without railroad knowledge decide about trains...

An unidentified ATR 220 is crossing the lake formed by the river Serchio near Pontecosi, on the tuscan Lucca-Aulla line. This railway runs along a mountaineous territory called Garfagnana that still today is partly wild and offers to the traveller magnificent views (and excellent food in the local restaurants).
The train, the viaduct, the old church, the village and the mountains: all the elements contributed to make splendid this image.
Still on the Garfagnana line, another ATR 220 was caught leaving the Minucciano hamlet.
This secondary line is still having good patronage and valley people is strongly attached to the railway, that represents a manner to avoid isolation.

The two images by S. Paolini courtesy of Photorail, probably the best Italian site for railway photography.

Ciao :wink:
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  by Benny
Well, I showed you the story of the FS railcars from the origin until now.
It should be noted that, daily, the FS tracks are used also by railcars or DMUs of granted railroads that sometimes were and still are of different models or with a different livery (e.g. the Trenord GTWs or the FSF units that made the Bergamo-Pesaro summer directs).
For more images of Italian railcars you can see http://photorail.it/phr1-leFS/automotri ... morchi.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; for FS units and http://photorail.it/phr2-le%20concesse/le%20concesse" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; html for granted railroads.
As usual and between my little knowledge, I'm available for questions or explanations.
Hope you enjoyed the thread.

Ciao :wink:
  by NorthWest
It was fun and I learned a lot.
As always, thanks a bunch, Benny!
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