The Tourist Railways today they count 10-12 thousand passengers a year, betweenTrainBLU is Nature Train, especially loved by foreigners, and all the other traits that allow you to explore the country on the rails. A tourism with a low environmental impact and with a charm not found elsewhere. Least of all in a car. In Italy, he explains Silvio Cinquini of Italian tourist railways, there is still a lot to do, but a lot is already being done.
1) What is meant by TOURIST RAILWAY?
Abroad, where the phenomenon is widespread, however tourist railway we mean railway lines or tramways with more than occasional frequency but without the obligation of a timetable with constant and regular daily or weekly commitments. Unfortunately, at the moment in Italy the concept is not completely applicable as it is not allowed the complete responsibility of the management by associations or groups, as happens more or less all over the world: we must always refer to railway companies such as Trenitalia or other regional railways.
2) Ferrovie Turistiche Italiane was born from FBS: what did FBS consist of?
There FBS (Lower Sebino Railway) was the first association in Italy, in 1994, to try to apply the concept of tourist railway a short stretch, on the border between the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia, between Palazzolo sull’Oglio and Paratico-Sarnico, all along the river, up to the southern shore of Lake Iseo. This line had been closed for almost 30 years and saw only a sporadic freight traffic; given the final destination on the lake, it seemed almost natural to propose a new, typically tourist service, departing directly from Bergamo.
3) How, why and when did the transformation take place?
In 1998, after the experience of FBS had led to the birth of two other similar realities in Tuscany, it was thought that it was more logical to give a more "national" reference to these initiatives also because it seemed that the time was ripe for a more massive dissemination of these experiences. Then, in the light of the facts, it was not. Therefore now FBS is one of the local sections that make up the Association Italian Tourist Railways (F.T.I.).
4) Which traits have been added gradually?
After the first seasons of "TrainBLU"On Lake Iseo, in 1996 we contributed to the birth of the section in Siena FVO (Val d'Orcia Railway) which, with the support of the Province of Siena, led the "Nature Train"Among the enchanting scenery of the Crete Senesi and Val d’Orcia, along the disused Asciano - Monte Antico railway. Shortly afterwards, again in the Sienese area, the section was also constituted FCP (Colle Val d’Elsa - Poggibonsi Railway) with the intention of activating a tourist service along that line. The project has now been abandoned after the recent construction of a cycle path on the same site. The section was last born in 2006 FTC (Camuna Tourist Railway) with the aim of developing tourist services along the historic Brescia - Iseo - Edolo railway also with historic trains.
5) What is the most known and used trait today?
TrainBLU is Nature Train they are both quite well known given their twenty years of activity, although perhaps the Nature Train is better known abroad, also considering the tourist fame enjoyed by all of Tuscany, Siena in particular.
6) How many users can you count in Italy, on your railways?
In recent years, the average attendance of travelers on our tourist trains has been around, between TrainBLU is Nature Train, about 10-12,000 per year over thirty days of service. The main users are families and groups of friends, associations, corporate CRALs and, lately, even conscripts for class parties.
7) Is there a country in Europe with a more developed service to take as an example?
Certainly Great Britain which, first in Europe, since the 50s of the last century, developed these activities born almost exclusively from volunteering. However, France and Germany are no less, where even here there are dozens of lines reopened for tourism purposes often with historical material and where volunteers have the opportunity to manage trains, do track maintenance, etc. All things that are not currently possible in Italy. Here too, with the Italian Federation of Tourist and Museum Railways, of which we are a part, attempts are being made to introduce new regulatory rules that will finally allow associations to be more “responsible” by favoring the creation and management of numerous tourist railways that would have nothing to envy to many foreign realities.