Construction of a Remarkable Italian Main Line
THE CAMPI FLEGREI TUNNEL on the new direct railway route between Rome and Naples has a length of 1,939 yards. The construction of the Rome-
The “Direttissima” represents a vital link in the communications between the south and the north of Italy. It is only since the opening of this line that the vast natural resources of southern Italy have become available to their full extent. At last adequate means of transport have been provided to carry the products of an exuberant soil and climate to northern Italy, and far beyond the frontiers to the northern countries of Europe.
Apart from its importance on this account the “Direttissima” brings Naples almost to the door of Rome. Naples is the principal passenger port of Italy, and one of the chief ports in the Mediterranean. Its importance has now become enhanced, as it has virtually become the port of Rome. As long as the old line was used a journey from Rome to Naples and back was so fatiguing that many people stayed overnight in either of the towns or travelled one way overnight.
With the opening of the “Direttissima” however, the duration of the journey was reduced from four and a half hours to two hours and three-
The route of the “Direttissima” is of absorbing interest for its historical and archaeological associations, and for its natural beauties. The traveller passes through the Campagna Romana, with its herds of buffalo and horses. He sees aqueducts built by the Romans and still partly utilized, one of them being incorporated in that which Pope Sixtus V built in 1585. The trains flank the famous Via Appia which Appius Claudius built in 312 BC, still visible in its original state. They cross the Pontine Marshes, once a pestilential, death -
OPENED TO TRAFFIC IN 1927, the direct Rome-
On the Volscian hills are towns planned within cyclopean walls where those indomitable fighters, the Volscians, stayed the Roman onslaught for decades. Terracina, the ancient Anxur, once the capital of Volscians, and later a famous pleasure resort of the wealthy Romans, is famous to-
Then comes Formia, on one side of the Gulf of Gaeta, where Cicero’s famous villa stood. Farther on are the ruins of the summer residence of Faustina Augusta, restless consort of Marcus Aurelius the Emperor-
The old railway line between Naples and Rome was begun between Naples, Caserta, and Capua by the Bourbon kings in 1843. In 1857 the Pontifical Government constructed the line from Rome to Ciampino and Frascati, which was afterwards extended from Ciampino to Velletri and Frosinone. In those days of little traffic the main purpose of a railway was to provide better communication between the capital and the principal provincial towns.
Later on, Garibaldi, when he had become the master of the south of Italy, built the continuation of the line from Capua to Ceprano, which was the frontier of the States of the Church. In 1863 the Pontifical Government built the line from Frosinone to Capua, thus completing the direct communication between Rome and Naples. The length of this line is 170 miles, and it is still used.
The “Direttissima” has a length of 134½ miles -
The “Direttissima” branches off the Rome-
The building of the track did not present any difficulties. The number of constructional works is, however, noteworthy, and was necessitated by the frequent crossings over and under railway lines, tramways, and roads. The two principal viaducts on the first section are those over the Pagliano Casale River, which is made up of seven arches of 49 ft span each, and that over the Vittoria Torrent, which has six arches of 46 ft span. At one point the line crosses under the Via Appia by a tunnel 165 yards long. At the station of Campoleone twenty-
After the next station of Cisterna the volcanic soil comes to an end. Thirty-
The Line’s Longest Tunnel
On leaving the tunnel the line descends the Viola Valley into the Plains of Fondi and reaches the station of Monte San Biagio. On this last section the line is laid over alluvial ground of an old reclaimed marsh. Special precautions had to be taken in the construction of the foundations of bridges and buildings. After the station of Fondi the line rises for about three miles on a gradient of 1 in 100, and enters a short tunnel of 140 yards, which is followed immediately by the Viola Tunnel, which has a length of 4 miles 1,111 yards. This tunnel, which was bored through dolomitic rock, presented no difficulties. On emerging from this tunnel the line runs below the rocky Monte Mola and traverses the Rialto Tunnel (865 yards) before reaching the station of Formia, eighty miles from Rome.
SECTION OF ELECTRIFIED TRACK on the “Direttissima”. The system adopted is direct current at 3,000 volts, power being supplied by overhead transmission lines. In connexion with the electrification of the line, electric automatic block signalling has been installed over the entire route.
The track now runs parallel again to a branch of the old line for about two miles, crosses under it, and joins it again at the station of Minturno after passing through the tunnel of the Madonna di Ponza (241 yards) and over a noteworthy steel girder bridge with a single span of 138 ft. The line then crosses the Ausente River over a bridge composed of three independent steel girders resting on masonry piers. The central span has a length of 73 ft and the two lateral girders are each 17 ft long. The piers were built over deeply sunk reinforced concrete piles carrying a reinforced concrete platform of unusually large dimensions. The piles had to be sunk to a depth of eighty feet because of the unstable soil consisting of clay and turf. The Garigliano River is then crossed by a steel girder bridge of 230 ft span. The foundations of the piers were laid 60 ft below the level of the river at low water, which is four inches above the level of the sea.
The line now traverses the alluvial soil of the Garigliano Plain and enters, at a point ninety-
Big Engineering Works
The line next runs through the quaternary plain of the Volturno River and passes the stations of Falciano-
At Villa Literno a new double-
The Filangieri River is now crossed by a masonry bridge of six arches of 46 ft span, and the line enters the Campi Flegrei Tunnel, which has a length of 1,939 yards. This tunnel is bored through the slopes of the great Solfatara crater and presented considerable difficulties because of the extreme hardness of the rock and the high temperatures encountered. These reached 130° at the headings in certain points. Heavy emanations of carbonic acid had to be overcome by powerful ventilation plants. Carbonic acid, being heavier than air, tends to settle near the ground, and is, therefore, particularly dangerous for the men working at the headings.
A TRANSFORMER SUB-
Soon after emerging from this tunnel the line reaches the station of Naples-
The total length of the tunnels on the “Direttissima” (as far as Mergellina Station) is twenty-
The Water Supply
For the construction of the double track 840,000 cubic yards of excavations, 3,350,000 cubic yards of embankments, 265,000 cubic yards of masonry work, and 1,100,000 cubic yards of ballast were required. The total length of the lines, including sidings, is 313 miles, for which 35,500 tons of rails, 10,000 tons of accessories, 628 points, and 570,000 sleepers were used. Twenty-
Whereas the old line reaches an altitude of 1,090 ft near Segni and descends to 107 ft, rising again to 650 ft, the highest point of the “Direttissima” is at 414 ft above sea-
A MODERN ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE built for express work on the Italian State Railways. The introduction of powerful electric locomotives on the Rome-
[From part 42, published 15 November 1935]