More sustainable railways for Emilia Romagna Region
Tests underway for the electrified Reggio – Ciano section
First electrified train along 27 km of the Reggio Emilia - Ciano d’Enza section. The event scheduled for Sunday, January 23rd, will open the testing phase of the railway electrified by GCF and will mark, above all, the first, tangible step towards the “ecological transition”, one of the three axes on which Emilia Romagna Region founded its powerful Sustainable Plan of the railway network.
“It is an important moment for FER operator and also for GCF – comments Filippo Sasso, project manager of Generale Costruzioni Ferroviarie - since it represents a concrete step of a Plan in which Emilia Region has believed and still strongly believes, that saw us truly committed for many months”.
Emilia’s Plan for sustainable railways
Sustainable mobility is the keyword that leads the regional activity. First, thanks to the full restoration of the “iron” of the train fleet, in two years: Emilia conquered the Region’s podium with the newest rolling stock in Europe. Secondly, with a regional railway Plan – 325 millions in four years – that worked on the infrastructure in order to make railway transport safer, more modern, competitive and as alternative to private transport, for environmental sustainability.
“If we want to mitigate the effects of climatic change – underscored the President of the Region, Stefano Bonaccini, last spring, announcing the Plan to the Media – we need to make railway infrastructures more suitable and safer. Hence, we are investing: to promote the use of public transportation for our daily commuting, whether for work, study or leisure time”.
The investments foreseen by the Plan are based on three axes: safety, with 118.5 millions to equip the regional network with the train’s travelling control system (SCMT) and eliminate some level crossings; urban connections, with 124.7 millions that will allow, in Bologna and Ferrera, to place urban sections of the railway lines underground. Lastly, the ecological transition that, with 81 millions of investment, foresees the electrification of the regional lines, prioritizing the three lines in Reggio Emilia: Reggio Emilia – Ciano, Reggio Emilia-Guastalla and Reggio Emilia-Sassuolo.
The electrification works
“The electrification works – states Filippo Sasso – proceed at great speed. We concluded the electrification of the Reggio- Ciano line (27 km of single-track line equipped with 800 poles with aluminium brackets of Omnia type), and now we are tensioning about 30 km of Reggio Emilia Guastalla line, terminated so far until Bagnolo, and we are estimating to finish the Reggio-Sassuolo line by the summer, 23 km of line already featuring supports and Omnia brackets”.
Among the works being completed, there are also an ET cabin and two electric sub-stations, all featuring modern SCADA diagnostic systems. While the Reggio-Ciano line will be supplied with cantilevers, the other two Reggio’s lines will feature a double voltage system, in Reggio Emilia through a new ET cabin servicing each line and in Dinazzano (for the Reggio-Sassuolo line) and Guastalla, through an electric sub-station.
The benefits that will be achieved from the ecological transition
“The electrification of the railway lines – explains Fabrizio Maccari, FER engineer, Manager of the Technical Department – will achieve full inter-operability as first result, also at traction level, between the regional and national network. Moreover, always with regards to the regional Railway Local Public Transport, obvious benefits will be achieved from using electric trains that are better performing in terms of comfort on-board and resumption, a characteristic that can be particularly seen on lines with many stations and stops”.
In addition to improve travelling times, service quality and number of passengers – indeed the number of passengers using regional transport (about 45 millions a year) is constantly growing, thanks to the efficient service also on local scale – the railway electrification will also bring environmental spin-offs by considerably reducing polluting emissions thanks to the electric trains and also sound pollution; in particular, the noise produced by electric trains when travelling and manoeuvring at low speed, is irrelevant compared to the sound emissions produced by diesel locomotors.
Therefore, many expectations and many results that will be soon achieved and experimented along the 80 km of the three main lines of Reggio Emilia. But the ecological transition does not stop here. GCF was awarded in September, the new “Framework Agreement” for the electrification of an additional 80 km of the Parma - Poggio Rusco line.
“We are ready – states Filippo Sasso – to start the works in mid-March. We will begin with the central section, Guastalla-Suzzara, by casting the foundation blocks and installing the poles, that we will proceed with the equipment and tensioning. We are estimating to start, in May, at the same time, the works on the other two sections, Parma-Guastalla and Suzzara Poggio Rusco”.