The Anonymous Widower

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

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

Eating In Novara

Novara is a town with not too many restaurants, so I followed the advice I gave in Dr. Chris Steele, where I said this.

As to eating out, Dr. Steele should try Italy. Just say you are a coeliachai and you get gluten-free pasta in many restaurants. We should follow the Italians and treat the disease very seriously, as how much does the misdiagnosis cost the NHS.

I just chose a busy restaurant, said the magic word and had an excellent meal of grilled fish and vegetables.

What did surprise me was that despite Novara being in the middle of Italy’s rice-growing area, I wasn’t offered risotto.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Disability Issues At Novara Station

Novara is a town about the size of Ipswich and the station is well-provided with equipment and signs to help those with various issues.

  1. Note.
  • Braille maps are everywhere and most handrails seemed to be marked.
  • Each platform had a lift.
  • The wheelchair lift is a common sight in Europe to overcome the bad design of trains, which don’t have level access.

Most stations I visited, were similarly equipped.

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Novara

Novara is a typical Italian town.

One thing that surprised me was the amount of information for visitors all over the centre..

As one could exect, there was plenty of good ice cream and coffee.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

London To Novara

I flew from between London City and Milan Linate airports and then it was a coach and train to Novara.

These are the various legs of my journey.

Home To London City Airport

I took the following route.

It took just fifty minutes.

It is my closest airport.

London City Airport to Milan Linate Airport

I flew with British Airways Cityflyer.

  • The Airport was busy and there were delays at security.
  • We left a few minutes late.
  • The plane was an Embraer 190 SR.
  • I had a default aisle seat, but the guy in the window seat didn’t come, so I had room to spread about.
  • Some got a free snack, but they had no gluten-free, so BA gave me an extra water from Thirsty Planet.

I took these pictures during the flight.

The flight was more expensive than easyJet or Ruanair, but more refined and not as expensive as British Airways from Heathrow.

It was a route, I’d use again.

Milan Linate Airport To Milan Centrale Station

This was a five euro transfer in a coach from the airport to Milan Centrale station.

As I’d bought the ticket for the bus from a guy by the baggage reclaim, it was a painless business.

Wikipedia says this about Milan Central station.

Milano Centrale has high speed connections to Turin in the west, Venice via Verona in the east and on the north-south mainline to Bologna, Rome, Naples and Salerno. The Simplon and Gotthard railway lines connect Milano Centrale to Bern and Geneva via Domodossola and Zürich via Chiasso in Switzerland.

The station is also an important stop on the Milan Metro.

Looking up on Loco2.com, it would appear that most major cities in Italy have an hourly direct service to and from Milan Central.

Many are high speed trains, like the French TGV, which are called Freciarossa.

My journey between aiirport and station took forty minutes.

Unless I need a specific train, I rarely buy a ticket until I get to the station in Italy.

You can either go straight on to your destination on the next train, or dump your luggage in the left luggage lockers and take a couple of stops on the Metro to the cathedral to have a quick look at Milan.

Milan Centrale Station To Novara Station

To get to Novara station, I used the hourly express commuter service, that goes to Turin.

Note.

  1. The hour’s journey took about an hour and cost me five and a half euros.
  2. My train ran to the timetable.
  3. Usually, you can board a train about fifteen minutes before it leaves.
  4. The Italians paint a lot of rails white. It keeps them cool!

I arrived in Novara about five hours after I took off from London City Airport, so the total journey time coul;d have been under seven hours.

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment