Bibliografia Ferroviaria Italiana


Treno 8017. Il più grave disastro ferroviario italiano


Pubblicato in "Railroading in eighteen countries" di Carl R. Gray Jr., New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955, pagina 132



A great tragedy occurred on 3 March 1944. The Corps of Engineers had found standing timber of sufficient size south of Potenza in the "instep" and had put a forestry battalion there to cut bridge timbers which were very vital in the rehabilitation of bridges in the wake of the Army. M.R.S. scheduled train service to handle this bridge timber and was operating empty trains regularly out of Battipaglia through Torrenza and south from Metaponto through Sibari and Spezzano into the "toe," to be loaded and returned in special trains.

Italian civilian employees were operating these trains. The loaded trains were double-headed, and in order to balance power, the empty trains were also double-headed. There were many heavy ascending grades between Battipaglia and Potenza eastbound and there were many tunnels. Delays were incurred frequently and, while instructions were definite and every effort was made to insure that no unauthorized person was transported in these empty trains, in the darkness of the night at station stops refugees would climb aboard without the knowledge of train crews. On one such train, when it had pulled into a tunnel (two miles in length) east of Potenza, the drivers on both engines started slipping and the train stalled inside the tunnel. The tunnel filled with gases from the two engines and before the situation could be corrected and the train pulled into the clear, 426 refugees and trainmen were asphyxiated.

This was the only accident of this nature suffered in the operations in Italy. The use of Diesel electric power had much to do with overcoming the hazards of asphyxiation in tunnels and accidents of a similar nature.