12 july 1999
This page is different from most of the others, since it does not describe the history of this railway (that incidentally was the first one in Toscana, in 1843 ) but rather is a virtual trip.
The three images below are clickable and would make your browser load three.mpg file that would ( at a 9:1 time speed) . Each file is about 3 MB and cover one third of the 80 km of line.
The movie have been taken on 23/3/1998 from the tail of train 11716.
Pisa-Pontedera (click on image for movie)
On left the Mt. Verruca, with a medieval fortress accessible in its head, with a steep footpath (leave from Caprona), on the right one of the still standing, but unused signal towers along the line.
Upon arrival at Pontedera on the right you see a string of cars, that track was the beginning of the new dismantled Pontedera-Lucca line.
At that time the station was quite busy, with many commuter trains. Click on it for the movie to Empoli.
On the left the tunnel near La Rotta, the most recent variation on the
original path , on the right the station of S.Miniato (formerly S.Pierino)
that is exactly half way between Firenze and Pisa. In this, as well in
most other stations in the line the passing are outside the station, so
a train arriving could stop in the station, the switchman operate the switch,
the train enter backward on the passing, so as soon the other train has
passed it can leave. In this way the switches were always near the staion,
so switchmen could operate quickier, as well command could be sent to the
train easier, since the locomotive rested just on side of the station.
The only station in the line that depart from this arrangement are Pontedera and Signa (that have passing tracks on both sides) that were relocated oround 1920 (the former Pontedera station was after current one, you see on left a public park before the iron bridge, the one of Signa is still standing, you see on right before the new one), beside Empoli that is a junction, and Montelupo and S.Donnino that instead have a passing track between the two main, so one train can go on siding without never crossing the other main).
In the last second of the movie you see the track of the line to Siena, and in the last ones the water column used in that line until 1958, when that line was one of the first two ones in Italy to be fully dieselized.
Leaving Empoli, click on image to start the movie.
On left the station of Montelupo Capraia, still in the original
arrangement with waiting rooms on both side of the railway, on right the
belltower of Badia a Settimo. this church actually is on left bank of the
Arno river, while the railway is on right bank.
The station in that site was called "S.Donnino - Badia" since it served also the village of Badia, and there were a ferry across the river, Eventually bus services reached Badia and the ferry disappeared, and since a few years no trains longer stop there.
Just on arrival at Firenze the first station you met is Firenze Cascine,
this junction, beside being a place for storing to-be-scrapped cars, or
to store train on off peak times, is where the current line divert from
the original alignement that you can see on the pictures above. The line
in origin arrived on the station of Firenze Leopolda,
or Porta al Prato, where now there is only a very limited freight service
and one shop to repair cars (around 1900 was the one where experimental
locomotives were built).
This shop should move away in 2002, to a new location in Osmannoro. Ahead you could see the works for making the junction for the new line to Osmannoro. Future use of the line to Porta al Prato is uncertain, best bet are for a light railway or more likely used as railbed for a streetcar line.
In 1912 was built the link that now almost of passenger train run, linking with the line to Pistoia, avoiding some grade crossings and/or low underpasses on the previous link to S.Maria novella (opened in 1870 along the current alignement of via Benedetto Marcello).
End of Trip, on Rifredi Station that have a page for itself ... (The line go until the station of Santa Maria Novella even if not covered by this movie)
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