Thursday, 7 March 2013


On my way from the automatic metro in Brescia to the next in Milan I made a stopover in Bergamo, about halfway between the two, to see its light rail line opened in 2009. Anyway, the city itself is also worth a visit, with its lower and upper towns connected by a funicular.

The tram is not a typical modern urban tramway, but rather a regional service that makes use of an old railway alignment all along its way. Trams run every 15 minutes to Albino and they were even pretty busy on a late Monday morning. The line starts outside the railway station where the old valley railway used to start, too. The entire infrastructure is new, though, and double-track throughout. The stops, except Borgo Palazzo which lies in a trench and even has escalators, are rather simple with exposed-concrete shelters, and all of them were covered with graffiti. The line doesn't really travel through nice areas, mostly old industrial estates which made this valley prosperous in the 19th century. The trains run rather slow along the section within Bergamo, where there are more level crossings, but they really speed up on the outer section where there are fewer stops and fewer level crossings. All intersections are protected by traffic lights which switch to green automatically when the tram approaches, so this gives the impression of a very fast ride. Being all laid with Vignol tracks, the Sirio trams run quite smoothly.

One negative point I have to mention is the fact that the line doesn't really go into the city centre. As originally proposed, it would be easy to extend it right to Porta Nuova and possibly further up to provide interchange with the funicular that goes to the Città Alta, as Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII is wide enough to create a dedicated right-of-way. This would make the existing line even more attractive for passengers from those towns, but it would also attract new passengers on the urban section, making the entire system more cost-efficient. There have been other plans for a second, similar line and an urban east-west tram, but it seems that these projects have gotton stuck somewhere....


Bergamo at UrbanRail.Net


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