[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

8. - Line 91 - Main Connection to East Coast from Naples. Naples-Caserta-Benevento-Foggia..

This line forms the most direct connection to the East Coast from Naples. Its importance for feeding supplies forward to the Eighth Army from Naples was therefore considerable. Leaving Naples by the same route as Line 89, it diverges from this line at Aversa and strikes North across the plain to Caserta, where it crosses Line 90. From Caserta the line climbs steeply over the hills to the East and North and drops down into the valley of the river Calore. Crossing the Calore the line follows the river through Benevento as far as Apice, where it diverges and follows a tributary - the Miscano - up to the watershed at Ariano. Crossing the watershed through some tunnels the line joins the valley of the Cervaro which it follows down to Foggia. The line is single track except for the section from Naples to Aversa which is shared with Line 89. The line is electrified throughout.

The repair of the section of the line from Naples through Aversa to Caserta, 35 kilometres in length, was completed by American troops between 6 October and 10 November 1943 as part of the Naples base development and no further reference will be made to this section of the line. The whole of the work on the remaining 164 kilometres was carried out by Nº. 1 Railway Constr. & Maintenance Group, R.E., with the following units under command.

150Railway Construction Company, R. E.
161Railway Construction Company, R.E.
1Railway Bridging Section, R.E.
46Mech. Equip. (Tn.) Platoon, R.E.
930Port Construction & Repair Company, R.E.

Signal and Telegraph work was carried out by 3 Railway Tele. Coy., R. Sigs. Work on the reconstruction of the line commenced on 9 November 1943 and the first train ran on 1 January 1944.

Demolitions, as judged by standards met later in the campaign, were not unduly heavy. 14 bridges out of a total of 67 bridges, of span of 5 metres or greater, were demolished, but only one of them seriously, and in this particular case, ready made foundations suitable for R.S.J. spans existed alongside, being the remains of a previous bridge on an alternative alignment. Three tunnels out of a total of 15 tunnels on the line were demolished, but none of them seriously. 5.5 kilometres of track were demolished by cutting every rail and 8 kilometres demolished by cutting alternate rails.

Repairs to bridges were carried out by restoring the arch in one single arch bridge, lifting and re-using the undamaged part of a 40 metre steel girder, and by use of U.C.R.B., 40 ft. Sectional, R.S.J., and rail cluster spans for the remainder.

The most interesting job on this line was the lifting and repair of the 40 metre steel span over the river Miscano at Apice at kilometre point 85.5 The work was carried out by Nº. 1 Railway Bridging Section R. E. The bridge had been demolished by cutting at the first panel point (approx. 8 metres) from the Western end. The Western panel was completely ruined, but the remainder of the bridge was sound although the point of demolition was resting in the river bed. The Eastern end remained seated on its bearings on the abutment, Both abutments were undamaged.

Figure 77. - Line 91. Bridge over River Miscano, East of Apice station. Diagram showing the arrangement for the lifting of the span. Work was carried out by Nº. 1 Railway Bridg. Section, R.E., under job Nº. 91/23 from 13 December 1943 to 31 December 1943.

Figure 78. - Line 91, Job 91/23. Bridge over River Miscano, East of Apice Station, showing the structure after completion of first repair. Note the Gabion Bund to protect the intermediate trestle pier.

In order to lift the span, a gantry was erected at the point of demolition where the girder was resting on the river bed. This gantry consisted of two light steel trestles 1 bay x 1 bay, 50 feet high, one erected on each side of the span. These trestles were capped by two 24 inch x 7 1/2 inch lifting beams. Four lifting tackles consisting of treble sheave blocks reeved with 4 inch S. W. R. were connected two to each side of the girder, and the leading ends brought through a compensating arrangement to the Eastern bank. The pull on these ropes was provided by a locomotive. The first attempt to lift was unsuccessful and it was therefore necessary to send a diver down with underwater cutting gear to free as much of the debris as possible. A small lift was then made which permitted further cutting. Lifting and cutting then proceded alternately, until all the debris was clear. The span was then lifted into a horizontal position without further trouble.

Figure 79. - Line 91. Bridge at Km. 147 near Dugenta. The repair, involving the reconstruction of the 65' arch span in reinforced concrete, was carried out by 930 Port Constr. and Repair Coy., R.E., under Job No. 91/4 from 26 November 1943 to 15 December 1943.

Figure 80. - Line 91. Bridge at Km. 144.7 near Dugenta. The repair was carried out by 161 Rly. Constr. Coy., R.E., from 2 December 1943 to 2 January 1944 under job Nº. 91/5. All unsupported arches were spanned, so as to be relieved of load. 1 Nº. 29', 2 Nº. 31', and 1 Nº. 35' R.S.J. and 1 Nº. 40' Light Sectional Plate Girder spans were used in this reconstruction.

A light steel trestle was then built to support the point of demolition and the gap was closed with a rolled steel joist span.

Although this repair was adequate as a temporary measure it was considered that the permanent repair should be completed. A new end panel was therefore fabricated by a steelwork contractor in Naples and erected by Nº. 1 Railway Bridging Section, R.E.

Work on the bridge commenced on 12 December 1943, the temporary repair was opened for traffic on 1 January 1944 and the final permanent repair was completed on 25 April 1944.

Other works of interest on this line are shown at figures 79 & 80.

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

Alessandro Tuzza