[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

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Chapter II

Section III.
Railway Construction considered in relation to the ultimate Railway system

7. - Line 87. - Cross Country Route. - Orte-Foligno-Falconara..

Drawings illustrating sections of this line and the bridge repairs carried out thereon are included as under:
Orte to TerniPlate Nº. 25.
Terni to FolignoPlate Nº. 26.
Foligno to FabrianoPlate Nº. 27.
Fabriano to FalconaraPlate Nº. 28.

This line, in conjunction with lines 65 and 86, forms a cross country route between Rome and the Adriatic port of Ancona. In peacetime, it was a line of some importance, and during the war it was vital, being the sole rail connection between Eighth Army units operating on the Adriatic coast and the South of Italy. The line branches off Line 65 at Orte and immediately crosses the River Tiber. It then follows tributaries of the River Tiber, pursuing a general Northerly and North-Easterly course, through the industrial town of Terni, up to their source. It then tunnels under the watershed, by means of the Balduini Tunnel and comes out into a remote inland catchement area of the Upper Tiber. Continuing on its Northerly course, following tributaries of this catchment area, and passing through the railway workshop town of Foligno, the line comes once again to a watershed near the town of Fossato. Here it turns East and passing through the Fossato Tunnel, comes out into the valley of the River Esino. This river, it follows down to the Adriatic coast and Line 86 which it joins at Falconara. The line is double tracked from Orte to Terni and single track for the remainder of its length. It is electrified throughout.

The repair of the line was undertaken in one continuous stage by R.C.E., S.A.E.C., with the following units under command:
38Railway Construction Company, S.A.E.C.
39Railway Construction Company, S.A.E.C.
40Railway Construction Company, S.A.E.C.
61Tunnelling Company S.A.E.C.
62Tunnelling Company, S.A.E.C.
190Railway Operating Company, R.E.
2Railway Bridging Section, R.E.

Additional works, improvements, etc., subsequent to the opening of the line, were carried out by Nº. 4 Indian Railway Construction and Maintenance Group, I.E. with the following units under command:
122Indian Railway Maintenance Company, I.E.
136Indian Railway Maintenance Company, I.E.
1Railway Bridging Section, R. E.

Repairs to the Signal and Telegraph installations on the line were carried out by 2 Railway Telegraph Company, R. Sigs., with 102 and 103 Construction Sections (Railway) R. Sigs, under command. These units also carried out maintenance to the communications subsequent to the opening of the line, but were later relieved of this duty by 40 Railway Telegraph Company, S.A.C.S.

The repair of the line was commenced on 27 June and the line was opened right through to Falconara on 3 September 1944 - a distance of 202 kilometres. An intermediate railhead was opened at Bastia, on a branch line from Foligno, on 24 July.

The scale of demolition of this line was well up to the standard encountered in the Italian campaign. 44 bridges out of a total of 98 bridges, of span of 5 metres or greater, were demolished, including all major bridges. 7 tunnels out of a total of 10 tunnels were demolished, but fortunately, owing to the formations through which they were driven, none of these demolitions was so grave as those occasionally encountered on other lines. Out of the 202 kilometres length of line, the track had been demolished by cutting the rails with explosive charges over a length of 47 kilometres.

Works of major interest on this line include.

a) Repairs to Bridge over River Tiber at Ode Station.

Work was carried out on this bridge by 40th Railway Construction Company, S.A.E.C. The original crossing was by two separate bridges, an Up Line and a Down Line. Each bridge consisted of three 35 metre steel truss spans.

The repair involved the lifting and traversing into alignment of three of the least damaged of the six trusses, so as to make one complete bridge.

Work was commenced on 1 July 1945 and the bridge opened to traffic on 21 July 1945. The works involved are described at greater detail in Chapter III, Section 2.

b) Balduini Tunnel - South of Spoleto.

The length of this tunnel is 1,642 metres. Although the track is single, the tunnel is constructed to width sufficient to take double track. It is lined with stone masonry throughout. It had been demolished in six places by major demolitions causing damage to the side walls and arch, and in several other places by minor demolitions. The local rock, although standing well at demolished zones, proved to be a contorted limestone with faults which might cause future falls. Protection was therefore necessary at all blown points and was provided by complete replacemet in bricked arch at the most severe blows, and screening with heavy gauge wire netting (or Summerfield track) carried on arch rings fabricated from 6 inches by 3 inches 1 section girders, at the more stable places. In this work, clearance of the line was completed well in time for opening date on 21 July, but repairs to lining were continued under traffic until 3 August 44.

On 20 August a fall of the roof occured in this tunnel at a point where the original lining was entirely undamaged and traffic was held up until 0600 hours on 23 August. In this case, a large slab of rock, of approximately 15 tons, had broken away on a fault plane, and punched through the eight inch masonry lining, bringing down in all, 30 feet of arch and 100 tons of loose rock. The area. was made safe by erecting three steel frames, made from curved 45-1b rail and lagged over with railway sleepers, and a permanent repair effected under traffic by completely rebuilding a 27 inch brick arch at the gap. With the detachment on this job, the whole of the tunnel was again examined for further weak zones and concrete or brick arch rings built in where necessary. In all, approximately 800 feet of arch lining was replaced in this tunnel, largely done under traffic.

c) Bridge over River Esino near Serra San Quirico.

This bridge originally consisted of one 40 metre skew masonry arch. The arch had been completely demolished and the abutments very badly damaged. The bridge was rebuilt by 62 Tunnelling Company, by reconstructing both abutments in brick-faced concrete, erecting a steel trestle pier on a concrete mat and closing the gap with two 70 ft. U.C.R.B. spans.

The provision of a stable foundation for the trestle pier presented considerable difficulty. The river bed consisted of loose gravel and sand which had a depth of from 20 to 50 feet, according to local inhabitants. Attempts were made to locate solid bottom but these were unsuccessful. Excavations for a concrete mat were started, but when only four feet deep, untimely rains caused the river to flood and a greater depth could not be reached. A concrete mat 20 feet X 17 feet X 4 feet was therefore poured and this was surrounded later by 15 feet, sheet steel piles in a pattern which included a cut water and tail piece. 2 inch pipes were driven into the gravel to a depth of 4 to 5 feet below the bottom of the mat. Rapid Hardening cement was pumped

Figure 72. - Line 87. River Esino Bridge, South of Serra San Quirico at Km. 244. The first repair, carried out by 62 Tunnelling Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job Nº. 87/57 from 29 July 1944 to 30 September 1944, involved two 70' U.C.R.Bs., but due to a subsidence of the central pier after heavy rainstorms, these spans were replaced by one 153' 9" Standard Lattice Truss. This latter work was carried out by Nº. 1 Railway Bridging Section, R.E. under Job Nº. 87/57A, in two stages, from 9 December, 1944 to 20 January 1945 and from 15 March 1945 to 4 April 1945. Above, launching operations have just been completed.

through the pipes, using an ordinary hand operated lift and force pump. Altogether four tons of cement was forced in this way and it was considered that a fairly equal distribution of cement was attained It had been hoped to inject, at least 10 tons of cement into the gravel within the sheet piling below the mat in this way, but rapid sealing off of delivery pipes prevented this and t is estimated that a consolidation of a further 2 feet depth of gravel was attained.

On the night of 27 November 1944, following a heavy flow of water in the river, the central trestle sank, without warning, vertically a distance of 3 feet. Immediate aid was supplied by jacking up the girders and building up the trestle pier by the necessary height and the bridge was reopened to traffic at 0600 hours 3 December 44.

Although this repair sufficed to pass traffic as a temporary measure, it was considered to be anything but satisfactory on a long term basis. The erection of a standard W.D. Lattice Girder span was therefore put in hand forthwith, and as there was an awkward angle of skew on the abutments, a 153 feet square span was selected..

Owing to the fact that the abutments were constructed for a double line bridge, it was possible to erect and launch the lattice girder span alongside, and without interference to, the existing

Figure 73. - Line 87. Job Nº. 87/57A., River Esino Bridge. The lattice girder truss after launching, view looking downstream. The U.C.R.Bs. are still carrying the traffic. Due to inclement weather the Lattice Truss was lowered at close centres to the skidding joists, and left until the Spring, two months later.

Figure 74. - Line 87. Job Nº. 87/57A. River Esino Bridge. The bridge after completion and removal of the U.C.R.Bs.

U.C.R.B. spans. In order to spread the lattice girder it would, however, be necessary to dismantle the U.C.R.B. spans and skid them to one side. The work of erection and launching was carried out by Nº. 1 Railway Bridging Section, R.E., under the most trying conditions. This is illustrated very clearly by the following extract from one of the unit's weekly reports:

« All masonry and concrete work has been at a standstill, or practically so, since 1 January, due to extreme cold and snowfalls. No work was possible on 4 or 5 January 1945 when a temperature of minus 15° Centigrade was recorded. Under the extremely cold conditions, the air compressor and rivetting gear have frozen up, despite banked fires around the equipment ».

The launching of the span was completed on 13 January. As the extreme cold was proving a considerable impediment to the work and would almost certainly extend the time of occupation necessary to dismantle the U.C.R.B. spans and complete the lattice girder span, further work was postponed and the unit left the site for other duties on 20 January. The work had then progressed sufficiently, that, even if the U.C.R.B. structure had failed a second time, the closure of the line to bring the lattice girder span into operation would be no longer than a planned operation.

In the middle of March it was decided to proceed with the work. Four clear days occupation were granted for the work, to cover all possibilities of mishap. The U.C.R.B. spans were stripped of track and bracings and the girders closed up and traversed to the edge of the abutments and pier. The lattice girder span was then spread, flooring inserted and track laid across. The U.C.R.B. girders were then lifted, one by one, on to launching trollies standing on the new span, by means of two Brownhoist cranes, also standing on the new span. As each girder was recovered, it was trolleyed back to the works yard adjacent to the site for subsequent breaking down. After the four girders from the two U.C.R.B. spans had been recovered in this way, the bridge was opened to traffic. The total occupation was 60 hours as against the 96 hours budgeted. The bridge was reopened to traffic on 17 March and the work was terminated on 19 March 1945. The centre trestle was dismantled subsequently as part of the maintenance programme.

Other works of interest on this line are given hereafter.

Figure 75. - Line 87. A view of the demolitions in Terni Station. Clearance and repair of such lines and sidings as were required, was carried out by 40 Rly. Constr. Coy., S. A.E.C.

Figure 76. - Line 87. Serra Viaduct, North of Terni Station. The repair, using 15-30' R.S.Js. spans and 1-80' U.C.R.B., was carried out by 38 Rly. Constr. Coy., S.A.E.C., under Job No. 87/7 from 1 July 1944 to 22 July 1944

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[Railway reconstruction Italy 1943-1946 published by Royal Engineers, 1946]

Alessandro Tuzza