Flying back on an orange plane from Pisa tomorrow, I took the chance to make a quick stop in Genova (Genoa) to see their latest addition to the still very modest metro system. In Dec. 2012, the eastern terminus at Brignole railway station was opened.
This really gives the entire line a lot more sense, as it now links both major railway stations (which are also directly linked by many regional trains through a cross-city tunnel), so passengers coming from the region and suburbs on a Trenitalia train can easily hop on the metro and get into the city centre proper around De Ferrari or down to the port area. Unlike the Principe metro station, which is a bit isolated from the railway station (a direct access may be built along with the railway station's current modernisation scheme), Brignole metro station is fully integrated with the railway station, as it occupies the northernmost platform. Trains coming from De Ferrari leave the tunnel some 50 m before the side platforms start. The platform level is rather simple, though pleasant, while the vestibule that is directly connected to the pedestrian cross tunnels of the railway station has glass cladding on the columns with some archeological exhibits in the middle. I didn't take too many photos as an employee came up and told me that AMT does not allow photography...As the metro platforms are at the far end of the multi-track railway station it is quite a walk from the many buses that stop or terminate on the station square.
From the train, you can clearly see the provisions made for the intermediate Corvetto station, in fact the entire shell for this cavern station is there including platforms, but nothing fitted out. So they'll need to build an access shaft from the surface, let's hope this will be done soon as the station would be in quite a busy area (a huge roundabout with pedestrian underpasses...).
From Pisa I took a daytrip to Firenze (Florence), just some 45 minutes on a Regionale Veloce, which runs nonstop between the two cities. Besides the usual tourist programme, I tried their tram line in service since 2010.
So far there is only one radial line, and no signs are visible (at least not in the city centre) that any of the other two planned lines are under construction three years after the start of service of the first line. This one serves the western suburbs and the neighbouring town of Scandicci. It runs about every 4 minutes! and was pretty busy at all times when I saw it. It is hard to imagine that the second line could share the same terminus next to the main railway station Firenze Santa Maria Novella, as they already use both tracks with just one line.
The line is operated with Sirio trams, which look quite pleasant, but like Citadis trams, they have this rather annoying lateral kick whenever the track is slightly curved. Most of the track is on a dedicated right-of-way and on the section west of the river, trams run rather quickly without any delaying stops at intersections which are governed by traffic lights, but things are different east of the river. First, the trams run onstreet, then there are several traffic lights, until the trams reach a rather absurd S-curve between Porta al Prato and Cascine. Maybe someone can explain why they didn't build a straight alignment across the carpark there, instead of paving the park with concrete resulting in this double curve (with the above-indicated running characteristics of the Sirio trams)? Click here to view it on Google Maps to know what I mean!
The stops are all of a standard design, but for some unknown reasons, those closer to the city centre don't have a covered section, which would have been quite useful today as it was raining most of the day (and therefore my photographic ambitions were very low....). The tram line is fully integrated into the public transport system, which like in most Italian cities is rather cheap to ride.