[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]
DESCRIPTIVE ACCOUNT OF RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
Railway Construction considered in relation to the ultimate Railway system
6. - Line 65 - The Main Italian North - South Route. Rome-Arezzo-Florence-Bologna-Milan..
Drawings illustrating sections of this line and the bridge repairs carried out thereon are included as under:
|Rome to Fara Sabina||Plate Nº. 19|
|Fara Sabina to Orte||Plate Nº. 20|
|Orte to Orvieto||Plate Nº. 21|
|Orvieto to Chiusi||Plate Nº. 22|
|Chiusi to Arezzo||Plate Nº. 23|
|Prato to Bologna||Plate Nº. 24|
A short section of the line, from Florence to Prato, which was repaired as part of a scheme to link Florence to Pisa will be found illustrated with the remainder of that scheme in Plate Nº. 31.
This line was probably the most important line in Italy before the war, being the shortest and most expeditious route from the capital, Rome, to the heart of the industrial North, Milan.
Figure 44. - Line 65. Farfa Viaduct at Km. 44.4 near Fara Sabina. 2 spans of the original 12 spans were demolished. They were repaired using 2-40' Sectional Plate Girders. The work was carried out by 38 Railway Construction Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/6 from 14 June 1944 to 8 July 1945.
Evidence of this is provided by the pains taken by the Italians in many ways to make and keep the line up to a very high standard. This line is double track and is electrified throughout.
Leaving Rome, the line runs first in a Northerly direction and then in a North-Westerly direction following the course of the River Tiber closely, and incidentally crossing the river three times. Just before reaching the town of Orvieto the line diverges from the Tiber and follows the tributaries of that river up to the watershed near the junction of Chiusi. Crossing over the watershed into the catchment area of the River Arno, the line continues on its general North-Westerly course past the great inland lake Trasimeno to the junction of Arezzo. Leaving Arezzo, the line turns due West and for 30 kilometres runs through difficult country, in the hills to the South and West of the Arno. The line then turns North-West again and drops down to the river which it follows up to the town of Florence. After passing through the town of Florence, the line turns North up the valley of the Bisenzio, a tributary of the Arno. Following this river until it turns West, the line continues North, tunnelling under the Appenine mountains through the great Appenine Tunnel 18.5 kilometres long. The line emerges from this tunnel into the valley of the River Setta which it follows for 17 kilometres before passing under Mount Adone through a tunnel 7.1 kilo-
Figure 45. - Line 65. Paglia Viaduct at Km. 134.1 between Orvieto and Allerona. The repair, using German R.S.Js, was carried out by 160 Railway Construction Coy., R.E., under Job Nº. 65/29 from 11 July 1944 to 9 August 1944.
Figure 46. Line 65. Ritorto Viaduct at Km. 140.8 between Allerona and Ficulle. The repair of this 9 span viaduct, of which 2 spans were blown, was carried out by 159 Railway Construction Coy. R.E., under Job Nº. 65/34, from 8 July 1944 to 5 August 1944, using 2 Through Type U.C.R.Bs. Note L.S.U.S.T. used to strut the piers of the blown arches.
metres long into the valley of the River Savenna which it follows down to the important rail junction of Bologna. From Bologna the line again turns North-West along the Southern fringe of the broad and fertile plains of the River Po, crossing many important tributaries of that river. At Piacenza, the line turns North for a short distance to cross the River Po by a steel girder bridge of very considerable size. The line then finally turns North-West and crosses the plains of the Po to Milan.
Demolitions on the line considered as a whole are not statistically impressive when compared with the demolitions on other lines. The reason for this, is, that for 120 kilometres at the South end and for 200 kilometres at the North end, which aggregate about half the total length of the line, the line runs through areas from which the enemy had retreated in some disorder. In these areas damage was almost entirely restricted to bomb damage of large key structures. In the whole length of the line 131 bridges out of a total of 296 bridges, of span of 5 metres or greater were demolished. 34 tunnels out of a total of 49 tunnels were demolished. Out of the total of 632 kilometres of route, the track had been deliberately demolished for 34 kilometres. Of the 34 kilometres demolished, the track had been dismantled and all sleepers removed over a distance of 7 kilometres and had each rail cut by explosive charges over the remaining 27 kilometres. In addition, one of the tracks had been largely removed for repair work over a distance of 120 kilometres.
In the first section of the line to be repaired, from Rome to Arezzo, 33 bridges out of a total of 94 bridges, of span of 5 metres or greater, were demolished. 6 tunnels out of a total of 11 tunnels were demolished. Damage to track throughout the whole 229 kilometres length of this section was limited to that caused by air bombing.
In the second section of the line to be repaired, from Florence to Bologna, 37 bridges out of a total of 74 bridges, of span of 5 metres or greater, were demolished. 21 tunnels out of a total of 30 tunnels were demolished. Out of the 97 kilometres length of route of this section, the track had been deliberately demolished for 34 kilometres. Of the 34 kilometres demolished, the track had been dismantled and all sleepers removed over a distance of 7 kilometres and had had each rail cut by explosive charges over the remaining 27 kilometres.
The repair of this line was undertaken in four stages. First the section from Rome to Arezzo was reconstructed by
|R.C.E.||Units Under Command.||Section.||Length.|
|R.C.E., S.A.E.C.||38 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C.|
39 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C.
40 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C.
|Rome to Orte.||84 Kms.|
|R.C.E. 1212||10 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E.|
159 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E.
160 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E.
2 Rly. Bridg. Sec., R.E.
190 Rly. Optg. Coy., R.E.
45 M.E. (Tn.) Platoon, R.E.
29 Rly. Survey Coy., R.E.
(H.Q. & 2 Sections only)
|Orte to Chiusi.||81 Kms.|
|R.C.E. 1.||150 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E.|
161 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E.
46 M.E. (Tn.) Platoon, R.E.
29 Rly. Sorvey Coy., R.E.
(One Section only)
|Chiusi to Arezzo.||64 Kms.|
between 14 June 1944 and 21 January 1945. Arezzo Railhead being opened to traffic on 10 August 1944.
Second, the section from Florence to Bologna was reconstructed by
|R.C.E.||Units Under Command.||Section.||Length.|
|R.C.E. 1212||159 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E.||Florence to Prato.||17 Kms.|
|R.C.E., S.A.E.C.||38 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C.|
39 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C.
40 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C.
61 Tunnelling Coy., S.A.E.C.
62 Tunnelling Coy., S.A.E.C.
Detachment R. & H. Composite Coy., S.A.E.C.
|Prato to Bologna.||80 Kms.|
between 16 October 1944 and 23 June 1945, the section Florence to Prato being opened traffic on 28 February 1945, the section Prato to Grizzana Railhead being opened on 10 May and the whole section, Florence to Bologna being opened on 3 June 1945. Third, the section Bologna to Milan was reconstruction by R.C.E. 1212 with 159 Railway Construction Company, R.E., 45 M.E. (Tn.) Platoon, R.E., and 2 Railway Bridging Section, R.E. under command; assisted by civilian contractors, between 5 May and 12 September 1945. Fourth, the section Arezzo to Florence was abandoned as a military project owing to the severity of the demolitions: work is in hand by civilian contractors for the restoration of this section, working to a completion date at the beginning of April 1946.
In addition, a considerable amount of work was carried out in Bologna in connection with the restoration of terminal facilities by Nº. 4 Indian Railway Construction and Maintenance Group, I.E. with 120 Indian Railway Construction Company, I.E., and 136 Indian Railway Maintenance Company, I.E., under command. This was a task of no mean size, as the whole of the track in Bologna station and yards had been dismantled, all sleepers removed and many of the rails and P. & C. demolished. In repairing this damage, the Group reconstructed 26 miles of track plus turnouts in five weeks, all new materials required being road hauled from railhead 25 miles away.
After the opening of the various sections of the line, Nº. 4 Group took over maintenance and improvement works. 122 Indian Railway Maintenance Company, I.E., were made responsible for the section from Rome to Arezza, and 136 Indian Railway Maintenance Company, I.E., for Bologna Yards and the section Bologna to Piacenza. The maintenance of the section from Florence to Bologna was taken over by the American Section of M.R.S.
On Line 65, large repair works of major interest are so many that section of individual works for special description becomes a matter of some difficulty. Between Rome and Arezzo, however, there can be little doubt that the three bridges over the River Tiber were the most interesting jobs.
a) Bridge over River Tiber at Civita Castellana.
The original bridge at this point consisted of a three span through lattice girder bridge. A separate set of spans was provided for each of the two tracks. The size of the original spans was about 60 metres. Both trusses in the South span had been demolished by bombing, but the damage to the other girders was negligible. The Germans had repaired the gap by building two timber trestles on piles, spanned by three 20 metre joist spans, using six joists per span. When they retreated, they demolished the second timber trestle and when the two spans fell into the river, the damaged the piles of this trestle and the first trestle bent.
Repairs to the bridge were carried out by 39 Railway Construction Company, S.A.E.C., and 2 Railway Bridging Section, R.E., under the direction of R.C.E., S.A.E.C. Work commenced on 16 June, traffic was passed on 4 July and work was finally completed on 25 August 1944.
The only possible quick repair was to replace the demolished German repair. This involved using German joists lying in the river. The demolished trestle was replaced and the damaged trestle rebuilt. The girders were then lifted out of the river in clusters of three, weighing 16 tons, and relaunched into position. The total lift was 38 feet above water level and proved a very difficult and dangerous job, as the only tackle available, was two 10 ton chain blocks. The work was carried out in 15 days of 16 hours each, by 39 Railway Construction Company. Additional work was carried out by 2 Railway Bridging Section, R.E., subsequent to the opening of the bridge, up to 25 August and again from 15 October to 28 November 1944 to strengthen the existing steel girders and to clear standing debris which was endangering the repair.
b) Bridge over River Tiber at Bassano.
The original bridge at this point consisted of a double track steel box girder continuous over three spans, the size of the spans being 50.15, 60.20 and 50.15 metres, carried on masonry abutments
Figure 47. - Line 65. Viaduct over Tiber, South of Civita Castellana. Repairs and reconstruction of German repairs to this bridge (originally destroyed by bombing) were carried out by 39 Railway Construction Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/11 from 16 June 1944 to 25 August 1944. Note the German «saveall» piers to the remaining original spans
Figure 48. - Line 65. Job 65/11. Another view of the demolition and repair of the Tiber Viaduct at Civita Castellana
Figure 49. - Line 65. Job 65/11. View showing reconstructed timber trestle piers.
Figure 50. - Line 65. Job 65/11. the completed repair looking North from the South bank.
and piers. The bridge had been subjected to air attack and when found the South pier was completely destroyed, and the damage to the other pier and abutments amounted to partial destruction only.
The steel superstructure had been cut by direct bombs hits in the South span and had received incidental damage in the central span, resulting in considerable damage to individual members, the damage in the North span was minor. As a result of these damages, the girder had dropped to the river bed in the South span, and, pivoting on the North pier, had lifted at the North end.
Figure 51 - Line 65. Viaduct over River Tiber at Bassano in Teverina, Km. 92.4, showing the state of demolition. A deviation was constructed by 160 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E., under Job Nº. 65/17, from 2 July 1944 to 5 August 1944, to cross the river at this point.
Reconstruction was carried out by 160 Railway Construction Company, R.E., and 45 Mech. Equip. (Tn.) Platoon, R.E., under command of R.C.E. 1212. Work commenced on 2 July, the bridge was opened to traffic on 30 July and the main work of reconstruction completed on 5 august 1944. Some flood protection works were put in hand subsequent to this date, but as they were mainly carried out by civil contract of some duration, no further mention will be made of them.
Owing to the size and weight of steelwork obstructing the site of the original bridge and also owing to the possibility of salvaging a large proportion of it, as part of a long term permanent repair, it was decided to abandon the old site completely, and build a completely new bridge on a deviation. The site selected was about 200 metres downstream from the original bridge. The design of the bridge was very much influenced by the fact that a large number of German joists, 80 and 100 cms. deep. Had been found in a nearby dump. These joists were in 64 ft. and 95 ft. lengths respectively and it was decided that they could be used very profitably, supported at their mid points, so as to be continuous over pairs of spans, with one joist under each rail.
As the river bed was soft, piles were driven as foundations to all piers in the waterway. These piles were cut off at a constant level, about 10 feet above river bed level, capped, and the piers completed with Light Steel Trestling. The total overall height of the piers in the waterway averaged about 40 feet. Trestles were of 2 bay by 2 2 bay and 2 bay by 1 bay construction. 16 piles were driven under the 2 bay by 2 bay trestles and 12 piles under the 2 bay by 1 bay trestles. The trestle piers in the banks of the river were founded on concrete rafts. The ends of the shore spans were founded, one on a concrete bank seat and the other on a timber bank seat.
The total length of the bridge was 514 feet in 12 spans.
Figure 52. - Line 65. Deviation Viaduct over River Tiber at Bassano in Teverina, Job Nº. 65/17. This bridge was of 12 spans of total length 514', built on piled L.S.U.S.T. bents. Note the flood protection works to the approach banks.
c) Bridge over River Tiber at Castiglione in Teverina.
The original bridge at this point was of similar construction and dimensions to the bridge at Bassano, described in the previous paragraph, and like that one it had been subjected to air attack. The condition of the bridge as found, was, that both abutments and piers had been destroyed down to ground and water level respectively. In addition the girder was badly crippled in each of its spans.
Reconstruction was carried out by 10 Railway Construction Company, R.E. and 45 Mech. Equip. (Tn) Platoon, R.E., under the command of R.C.E. 1212. Work commenced on 2 July 44, the bridge was opened to traffic on 8 August and the main work of reconstruction completed on 16 September 1944. Some flood protection works were put in hand subsequent to this date, but as they were mainly carried out by civil contract of some duration, no further mention will be made of them.
Owing to the size and weight of steelwork obstructing the site of the original bridge, with consequent clearance problems, it was decided to abandon the original site and construct an entirely new bridge on a deviation. The site selected for the new bridge was at a point about 300 metres upstream from the original bridge. At this point, the river channel was about 500 feet in width and at the time of reconstruction was dry except at the South side, where the river flowed strongly through a deep part of the channel about 150 feet wide.
The design of the bridge was very much influenced by the availability of the stock of German joists at Bassano, referred to in the previous paragraph. In order to enable all work to be carried
Figure 53. - Line 65. Viaduct over River Tiber at Castiglione in Teverina, Km. 109.3. The original bridge at this point was very severely damaged. A crossing was effected by a deviation using 8 German R.S.J. spans and a 153'-9'' Standard Lattice Truss span. The work was carried out by 10 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E., under Job Nº. 65/22 from 2 July 1944 to 19 September 1944. The view here shows the launching of the Truss span in progress.
Figure 54. - Line 65. Job N.º 65/22. Another view of the launching, showing also the piling frame used for piling the foundations of four of the piers.
out in the dry, and also to give good clearance to the main watercourse, it was decide to use a 153 ft. Lattice Girder span to cross the deeper part of the channel at the South side. From the North end of this span to the North bank, the gap was crossed with eight approach spans of the German joists, each about 50 ft. in length, the joists being 100 cms. deep, two were used per span.
The structure of the river bed was good solid gravel with a hard substratum about ten feet below. Piles were driven to support the pier carrying the North end of the lattice girder span and to support the three adjacent piers. The remaining piers, being further removed from the main part of the watercourse, were founded in the river bed without the use of piles, and were protected after the opening of the line by steel sheet piling. All piers, whether supported by piles or not, were founded on 4 ft. thick reinforced concrete slabs sunk flush with the river bed. The piers themselves were fabricated from steel trestling. The South abutment, being a bearing for the Lattice Girder span, took the form of a heavy concrete bankseat, sunk deeply into the bank, while at the North end, the R.S.J. span was founded on a timber bankseat.
The total length of track in the deviations was 1,500 yards and the quantity of earthwork was 110,000 cubic yards.
d) Prato-Bologna Section.
The repair of this section of Line 65 was the heaviest individual task undertaken in the sphere of Railway Construction in Italy. The line is probably one of the most heavily engineered lines in the world. Over the greater part of its length, the line consists virtually of a series of tunnels
Figure 55. - Line 65. (Appenine). Km. 35.43 from Florence on the Prato Bologna sector. Rebuilding the arch of the South Portal of La Valle Tunnel. The work was carried out by 62 Tunnelling Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/528 from 24 October 1944 to 12 June 1945.
connected by high viaducts. In its length of 80 kilometres, except for a length of 8 kilometres captured intact, virtually, every bridge and tunnel was demolished. The fact that the line was repaired at all, let alone in time to be of military value, is the highest tribute to the South African Group, who carried out the reconstruction.
Details of all repairs carried out on the line are shown in Plate Nº. 24 which shows more clearly than would be possible by description, details of the work carried out. A full report on the Appennine Tunnel, which was by far the most interesting and difficult job on this section of the line, is given in Chapter III, Section 3.
Figure 56. - Line 65. (Appenine). Clearing operations at a tunnel portal using a face shovel. Note the wreckage of railway wagons buried in the demolitions. This was a failry standard practice of the enemy to hinder clearance operations.
Figure 57. - Line 65. (Appenine). Km 22.8. North portal of Tunnel under construction. A deviation was constructed round this tunnel by 39 & 40 Rly. Constr. Coys, S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/593 from 15 November 1944 to 20 April 1945.
Figure 58. - Line 65. (Appenine). Job Nº. 65/593. New retaining wall on the deviation under construction at 2 February 1945 (see figure 57).
Figure 59. - Line 65. (Appenine). Usella Tunnel at Km. 27.97, showing repair works in progress at South Portal, 2 February 1945. Work was carried out by 62 Tunnelling Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/519 from 12 November 1944 to 31 March 1945.
Figure 60. - Line 65. (Appenine). Viaduct over River Brasimone, Km. 57.46. Reconstruction was carried out by 39 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/567, from 28 October 1944 to 12 January 1945. 3-90 U.C.R.Bs. and 1-40 Sectional Plate Girder were used. The portal of the Piandisetta Tunnel is seen on the left.
Figure 61. - Line 65. (Appenine) . Viaduct over River Farnetola, Km. 60.75, showing extent of the demolitions. This viaduct was reconstructed by 30 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/568 from 1 November 1944 to 6 May 1945.
Figure 62 . - Line 65. (Appenine). Job Nº. 65/568 River Farnetola viaduct, showing the 4x2 S.S.T. piers constructed.
Figure 63. - Line 65. (Appenine). Job Nº. 65/568 River Farnetola viaduct, showing the reconstructed bridge consisted of 4-75' U.C.R.Bs. The inclined strutting to support the pier of the undamaged masonry arch can be seen in the background.
Figure 64. - Line 65. (Appenine). Viaduct over Rio Piastola, Km. 61.77, showing the extent of the demolitions. The remains of the German repair are visible. This bridge was reconstructed by 40 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C. under Job Nº. 65/569, from 17 November 1944 to 20 April 1945. The reconstruction incorporated the German R.S.Js already on site.
Figure 65. - Line 65. (Appenine). Job Nº. 65/569, Rio Piastola Viaduct, showing the gantry method of raising the German R.S.Js. back into position
Figure 66. - Line 65. (Appenine). Job Nº. 65/569, Rio Piastola Viaduct. Further view of the raising gantries and the inclined L.S.U.S.T. strutting to the pier of the undamaged masonry arch.
Figure 67. - Line 65. (Appenine). Job 65/569, Rio Piastola Viaduct. The girders raised, and the inclined strutting to the undamaged masonry arches in position.
Figure 68. - Line 65. (Appenine). Setta Viaduct at Km. 70.56, showing the extent of the demolitions to this 14 span masonry viaduct. The reconstruction was carried out by 40 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº 65/583 from 20 April 1945 to 16 June 1945. The repair involved 11 spans of 75' and 90' U.C.R.B.
Figure 69. - Line 65. (Appenine). Reconstructed North portal of Mount Adone tunnel, Km. 79.81. Work was carried out by 61 Tunnelling Coy., S.A.E.C. assisted by 701 Art. Works Coy., R.E., under Job Nº. 65/541 from 25 April 1945 to 30 June 1945.
Figure 70. - Line 65. (Appenine). Job Nº. 65/583, Setta Viaduct at Km. 70.56. A drawing of the viaduct and its surroundings.
Figure 71. - Line 65. River Savenna Viaduct at Km. 89.25. The reconstruction, involving 1-55' Through, 3-55' Deck, 1-60' Deck U.C.R.B. and 1-112'9'' Lattice Girder, spans, was carried out by 38 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 65/588, from 5 May 1945 to 23 June 1945.
e) Bologna-Milan Section.
Reconstruction of this section was not undertaken until after the termination of hostilities.
The area in which this section of line lies had never been a battlefield and consequently damages were largely confined to the effects of air bombing which had been very effective at all major structures. The largest and most difficult repair in the section was that of the bridge over the River Po at Piacenza - this is specially described in Chapter III, Section 7.
All the other major reconstruction works in this section were carried out by 159 Railway Construction Company, R.E., 2 Railway Bridging Section, R.E., and 45 M.E. (Tn) Platoon, R.E., all under the command of R.C.E. 1212. Latterly, owing to the preoccupation of 159 Railway Construction Company with works between Turin and Modane, the outstanding jobs on Line 65 were taken over by 161 Railway Construction Company, R.E., under command of R.C.E.I. Among the more important works, meriting special mention are:
River Secchia - Originally 12 span brick arch viaduct 61 ft. 9 ins span centre to centre of piers, 30 ft. high water level to rail level. As a result of bombing, all arches completely demolished except remains of one. Piers and abutments all partly demolished. Repaired by use of nine 60 ft. and two 65 ft. U.C.R.B. spans and one German R.S.J. approach span. Duration of works 4 May to 12 September, 1945. Work carried out by 159 Railway Construction Company, R.E., and 2 Railway Bridging Section, R.E.
River Enza - Originally 8 span brick arch viaduct 67 ft. O ins. span centre to centres of piers. 22 ft. high, water level to rail level. As a result of bombing, all arches completely demolished except for the remains of one. Piers and abutments all partly demolished. Repaired by use of six, 65 ft. U.C.R.B. spans and two German R.S.J. approach spans. Duration of works 14 May to 7 August, 1945. Work carried out by 159 Railway Construction Company, R.E.
River Taro - Originally 20 span brick arch viaduct 79 ft. O ins. span centre to centre of piers. 24 ft high water level to rail level. As a result of bombing, ten arches completely demolished and two seriously damaged. Piers and abutment associated with demolished arches all partly demolished. In the first place, this bridge was byepassed by a diversion in order to give the Italian Contractors freedom to reconstruct the demolished arches. The diversion involved 42,000 cubic yards of earthwork and included two 50 ft. German R.S.J. spans on pile foundations, for the waterway. Progress by the Contractor was so slow, however, that it became apparent that the permanent structure would not be completed before the advent of the winter floods. A temporary repair of the original structure was therefore put in hand using troops and W.D. materials. This repair consumed five 80 ft. and three 75 ft. U.C.R.B. spans. Duration of works on the deviation was 29 June to 3 August, 1945, and on the temporary repair of the main structure 30 August to 16 October, 1945. Work on deviations was carried out by 159 Railway Construction Company, R.E., and M.E. (Tn) Platoon, R.E., and on the main structure by 161 Railway Construction Company, R.E.
[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]