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Towards the future of railway tourism

Over the years a number of recovery projects across the entire railway spectrum have been set in motion. The FS Foundation does not only arrange heritage train journeys, but it also gathers documentary material in its archives and is gaining visibility amongst the wider public thanks to the guided tours held in its museums and repair workshops.

The investments made from 2014 onwards, have largely been repaid with the tremendous public success achieved. This testifies to the tangible interest in rail-related activities and in this new kind of tourism. Our data shows, in fact, continuous growth, highlighting the fact that many new development possibilities lie ahead for the FS Foundation.

From 2014 (its first year of activity) to  2020 the FS Foundation has focused its efforts on four main areas:

  • Historic Trains

The FS Foundation has over 400 items of rolling stock, including steam locomotives, railcars and coaches, all from different historical periods. Examples range from the Bayard’s twin locomotive which ran on the first Italian railway from Naples to Portici to the “Arlecchino” and “Settebello” EMUs which were operating from the 1950s.

  • Museums and Workshops

The museums and the maintenance workshops are both places of knowledge and hubs of activity. The National Railway Museum at Pietrarsa (link), the Railway Museum at Trieste Campo Marzio (link) and and the workshops in Pistoia, La Spezia Migliarina and Milan are examples of industrial archaeology housed in historic buildings but they are also modern places of work where rolling stock is preserved and repaired and where, through an immersive experience, the public can better comprehend the railway world.

  • The "Binari senza Tempo" Project

Disused routes are also part of the Foundation’s tourist offer. Through the “Binari senza Tempo” project, 10 routes which had ceased to be of any use to regular transport have now been recovered and set aside for leisurely and ecological tourist initiatives and are a perfect backdrop to herritage train journeys.

  • Archives

The new Archives portal, is the perfect home for all the material which describes in detail over 150 years of Italian railway history. Over 13,000 drawings, 60,000 photographs,150 newsreels and 400 timetables have been restored and digitalized, and are now available for consultation for enthusiasts and experts alike.

What has already been achieved...

  • 6th of March 2013: the CEOs of FS Italiane, Trenitalia and RFI signed the FS Foundation’s articles of association and statute naming an engineer from Bergamo, Luigi Cantamessa, as General Manager.
  • 2014: the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa restoration project began.
  • 2014: the “Binari senza Tempo” project began to take shape: in May the Sulmona – Carpinone line was inaugurated; on the 8th June of the Valley of the Temples line (Agrigento Bassa – Porto Empedocle), then Lake Railway (Palazzolo – Paratico) and of the Val d’Orcia Railway, followed and are the first lines exclusively dedicated to tourism
  • May 2015: saw the opening of Novara – Varallo Sesia line, the fifth route in the “Binari senza Tempo” project
  • December 2015: the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities became an institutional partner of the FS Foundation
  • February 2016: the Ceva – Ormea line was added to “Binari senza Tempo” project
  • August 2016: a small section of the Avellino – Rocchetta railway opened between Rocchetta and Conza stations
  • March 2017: the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella inaugurated the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa
  • August 2017: law 128/2017, establishing and regulating the touristic railway system in Italy was passed
  • September 2017: saw the inauguration of the first section of the Sannio Line from Benevento to Pietrelcina
  • December 2017: saw the inauguration of the first section of the Friuli Foothills Line between Sacile and Maniago
  • February 2018: a celebration of the past two years of rail tourism’s success was held at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities where upcoming important projects such as the “Arlecchino” and “Settebello” luxury EMU restoration programs and the renovation of the Railway Museum at Trieste Campo Marzio were presented
  • May 2018: the entire Irpinia Line and Friuli Foothills Line were opened
  • November 2018: saw the inauguration of Asti – Castagnole delle Lanze – Nizza Monferrato Line, the tenth in the “Binari senza Tempo” project

...and what’s in store for the future

The success of the first few years has inspired us to continue along the same track, taking on board new ideas. Here are some of the projects the FS Foundation will be developing or launching in the near future.

  • ETR252 Arlecchino (Harlequin): the refurb has been completed and this iconic EMU is ready to thunder along Italy’s most evocative tracks and cater to the high-end tourist market.
  • Settebello electric multiple-unit: the refurb has started. Coaches 6 and 7 will be redesigned thanks to the collaboration with DIT- Laboratorio Design Italiano (Italian Design Lab), who will propose projects incorporating the most advanced technologies available
  • Polifemo” and “Pendolino” electric multiple-units: restoration work will begin on these two trains in 2020 and they will become part of the heritage fleet
  • The Railway Museum in Trieste Campo Marzio: following in the footsteps of the successful overhaul of Pietrarsa’s Rail Museum, this once Austro-Hungarian station will be restored and become a unique meeting point between the past and the future. The first stage of the project, which began in May 2019, regards the building’s exterior.
  • New railway lines to add to the “Binari senza Tempo” project: thanks to the adoption of law 128/2017, five new lines will be opened: Civitavecchia-Orte, Castevetrano-Porto Palo di Menfi, Alcantara-Randazzo, Fano-Urbino and Noto-Pachino