The Anonymous Widower

Riding The Frecciarossa

After I left Aosta, I took a train to Turin Porta Nuova station.

The journey involved a change of trains at Ivrea station and then a reverse at Chivasso station.

Reverses, where a train stops in a station and the driver changes ends, to drive it out, are surely one of the most inefficient parts of passenger train operation.

Surely, automation could do better.

From Turin Porta Nuova station, I took one of Italy’s high-speed trains; a Frecciarossa to Milan. Centrale station.

Some of my observations.

The Route

Note that for a lot of the route, the Turin-Milan High Speed Railway runs alongside the Milan-Turin Autostrada (A4).

I wonder why HS2 is not being built alongside the M1 between London and Birmingham, with possibly a stop at Milton Keynes.

After all, HS1 follows the M2 and M20 in Kent.

Multi-Class Seating

I saw one train with four classes; Standard, Premium, Business and Executive.

Do Italians, really need that many classes?

Ticketing

I bought the ticket from a machine, which also sells the tickets for the slower classic route ytsoms.

As you pick a train, when you buy a ticket in Italy, so you can have reserved seats, you can choose a fast or slow train.

I hope HS2 is the same, so that if say you want to go from London to Birm,ingham or Manchester, you can choose your route.

There’s only one problem with Italian ticket machines. Often, when you start to buy a ticket, a beggar will appear and try to help or scam a few euros out of you. Some ticket machines are now in separate rooms off the concourse.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Aosta

The city of Aosta is a short walk up the hill from Aosta Railway station.

It is a typical up-market resort with good shops, cafes and restaurants.

My lunch was a local speciality of beef, red wine and polenta. It didn’t look that appetising, but it tasted excellent. And of course it was gluten-free.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Food, Transport | , | Leave a comment

From Novara To Aosta

I travelled between Novara and Aosta stations with a change at Ivrea.

My observations follow.

The Route

The train used the classic Milan-Novara-Turin railway, which is double track and fully-electrified, until Chivasso station.

At Chivasso, the train took the Chivasso-Ivrea-Aosta railway, which is mainly single-track and only electrified as far as Ivrea.

Until Ivrea, the route is fairly flat, but then it climbs into the mountains.

Paddy Fields

There is a lot of rice-growing around Novara and there were paddy fields alongside the line.

I’d seen paddy fields from a train before in Malaysia, but these fields lacked one feature of the Malaysian fields.

In Malaysia, many fields had a large nesting box above the field.

Apparently, paddy fields attract rats and in Malaysia venomous snakes used to go in to catrch and eat the rats.

The problem was that farmers, also got bitten by the snakes.

The boxes were built to attract birds of prey to live above the fields to control the rat population.

The birds are not some exotic species, but barn owls, which are native to much of the world. I’ve even seen them in the Galapagos Islands.

Ivrea Station

Ivrea station with its three platforms, acts as an interchange station between trains from Aosta, Chivasso, Novara and Turin.

The line to Aosta is not electrified, so diesel trains have to be used on the climb into the mountains.

Use Of Bi-Mode Trains To Aosta

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled Electro-Diesel Flirt Unveiled.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The first electro-diesel version of the Flirt multiple-unit family was unveiled at Stadler’s Bussnang plant in Switzerland on June 15, two years after the Valle d’Aosta region awarded a €43m contract for the supply of five units and the provision of five years of maintenance.

The Flirt3 units are scheduled to enter service on the Aosta – Torino route in May 2018. Bimode operation will remove the need for passengers to change trains at Ivrea to reach Torino Porta Susa station, where diesel operation is not permitted.

Using the trains from between Turin and Aosta is a classic use of bi-mode trains.

  • Between Turin and Ivrea, electric power will be used.
  • Between Ivrea and Aosta, diesel power will be used.

It’s a bit different to the application of a UK-version of these Stadler Flirts, in the flat lands of East Anglia.

Currently the service between Turin Porta Nuova and Aosta stations are generally hourly and take the following times.

  • Aosta to Turin Porta Nuova – Two hours seven minutes with an eight m,minute change at Ivrea.
  • Turin Porta Nuova to Aosta – Two hours twenty-three minutes with a sixteen minute change at Ivrea.

Adding in the turnround at both ends and there is a five-hour round trip.

Using the bi-modes, there is an obvious saving in that passengers won’t need to change trains at Ivrea.

But will the new trains have a faster performance on both sections of the route?

Certainly, the five trains ordered could run the service with a five hour round trip.

The real improvement would come with a four hour round trip, but I think that would be a challenging ask.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Milan To Paris TGV Goes Through Novara Station

On time, the 06:31 TGV between Milan and Paris Gare Du Lyon passed through to pick up passengers.

It is a very long train on a long journey.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Piggy-Back Freight At Novara Station

Novara station is on a main rail freight route and I saw a couple of trains carrying trucks go through.

There were certainly a lot of wagons going through. Note the passenger coach behind the locomotive.

I suspect the trains were using the Alpine Rolling Highway, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Alpine rolling highway is a combined transport service, in the form of a rolling highway on special wagons ravelling a distance of 175 km between France and Italy by the Mont Cenis Tunnel (aka Fréjus rail tunnel).

Some might think, that we should use a rolling highway from the Channel Tunnel to the North of England and Scotland.

The reason we don’t is that the loading gauge on the routes to the North is just too small.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment