Rocchetta-Potenza: electrification is coming soon
Executive design in progress. Works will start in January.
Architects and Technicians have been working for three months and will continue until December, to realize the Executive Drawings. The grand Italfer project for the Electrification of Rocchetta – Potenza, final section of the railway line that connects Foggia with Basilicata’s chief town, will start. It will develop for 69 km of single-track line from the border with Apulia, crossing Vulture, and arriving until the heart of Lucania.
This particularly complex project, entrusted to the temporary association of enterprises consisting of GCF – Generale Costruzioni Ferroviarie and Ceprini Costruzioni, will be completed in five years (about 1,250 days) and will involve the production and installation on-site, of voltage equipment specific for electrification and also the installation of new sections of railway armouring and construction of civil works of various type.
Project Engineer of GCF’s contract, Paolo Lopez, explains: “The specific features of this electrification project are many due to its technological complexity. The area crossed by the railway section is subject to numerous environmental restrictions derived from the natural characteristics of the territory – the line crosses the Regional Vulture Park – and also from the rugged terrain: indeed, the line develops in a mountainous area, going from 218 mt above sea level in Rocchetta SAL, to the peak in Pietragalla (794 mt above sea level), then dropping to 641 mt above sea level at Potenza Centrale station”. The physical space available and the environmental restrictions dictated the choices in terms of shape and sizes of the bases for voltage poles that, particularly inside the hydrographic basin of Vulture Park, must be compatible with the hydro-geological characteristics of the protected area.
Among the specific features, there are also the numerous railway viaducts: built at the end of the 19th century in masonry, the arches will need preventive evaluation in order to be able to build the anchoring works for the voltage poles. The tunnels will also require ad hoc solutions: there are 38 tunnels along Rocchetta-Potenza section, for an overall extension of 16,841 metres, about one fourth of the entire railway track. The main ones are Galleria Cardinale (1,521.32 mt), Monte Quattrocchi (1,827.24 mt), Pietracolpa (1,919.76 mt) and Galleria Appennino, long 3,320 metres. “These tunnels – continues Engineer Lopez – were thought and built for steam trains, without considering the spaces required for the technological equipment of the Contact Line. They must be adapted in order to create the necessary electric gaps between the tunnel arch and the Contact Line equipment”. Two solutions will be adopted to obtain the required distances to ensure isolation from the 3000 V of direct voltage: the construction of niches on the tunnel arches and, in many other cases, the lowering of specific sections of the inverted arches with consequent remaking of the armouring.
Moreover, new GSM-R antennas and new perforated cables will be installed in the tunnels, in order to adapt and boost the radio coverage.
The Project foresees the construction of two electric sub-stations at Rionero in Vulture and Pietragalla and two voltage cabins at Rocchetta Sant’Antonio Lacedonia and Potenza Centrale (with the construction of the relative civil works by Ceprini Costruzioni), the construction along the entire section, of an underground cable duct with the installation of cables in optical fibre and copper, modifications to the signalling system in order to adapt it to the new voltage poles and the remaking, in Forenza station, of LFM systems (Lighting and Driving Force) which serve also the platforms and sidewalks.
Among the benefits expected from the electrification project, the boosting of the railway service – with a greater number of trains and higher travelling speed – and improved environmental compatibility, with the reduction of emissions as the diesel trains will be placed out of service. Lastly, in Potenza area, a railway service will be available of “metropolitan” character, with a greater number of trains servicing the various city stops.