Six hundred kilometres of track serving public transport and the Trenino Verde rail tourism service.
Today ARST, the Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti (Sardinian Regional Transport Company), runs almost all of the island’s public transport system: rail transport (having incorporated the secondary narrow gauge network of the Ferrovie della Sardegna – Railways of Sardinia), urban and suburban road transport as well as the two fast tramway systems (in Cagliari and Sassari) which we talked about in detail in issue no. 27 of Railway Engineering.
In this issue we will be looking more specifically at the railway part of ARST’s activities and the very special experience offered by the Trenino Verde della Sardegna (the Little Green Train of Sardinia), a truly unique rail tourism service operating with historical vehicles. For this second article our interviewee is once again ARST General Manager, Carlo Poledrini (engineer).
Railway Engineering: Mr. Poledrini, ARST also manages the entire narrow gauge railway network in Sardinia. What lines are there and how many kilometres does the network cover in all?
Carlo Poledrini: Let me give you a brief historical outline to explain how ARST, which was established in 1971 to guarantee the continuity of public road transport (hard-hit by the boom in private car ownership), came to be running all of the island’s narrow gauge railway network. As well as the Ferrovie dello Stato, there was also a network of secondary railways operating in Sardinia which included the Ferrovie Complementari della Sardegna (Sardinia Complementary Railways), the Strade Ferrate Sarde (Sardinian Railroads) and the Ferrovie Meridionali Sarde (Southern Sardinian Railways). From a legal point of view, they were secondary railways “provisionally” managed by the Ministry, after the concessions to private individuals had expired. They connected, thanks to an extensive narrow gauge (950 mm) network, all the main towns on the island. Around 2005, the Regional Government decided it was also time to bring all rail transport which was not directly run by the Ferrovie dello Stato, under the direct control of the region. So, after quite a complicated procedure, government management of the Ferrovie della Sardegna was handed over to ARST, which in the meantime had become a joint-stock company (S.p.A.), on 16 June 2008, merging into the subsidiary company ARST Gestione FdS, a limited liability company 100% owned by ARST SpA, which in turn was wholly owned by the Sardinia Autonomous Region. Things continued to be organized in this way until 25 October 2010, when ARST Gestione FdS was incorporated into ARST. Now we run the services on the Monserrato (Cagliari)–Isili and the Macomer–Nuoro lines as well as the lines running from Sassari to Alghero, Sorso and Nulvi. Furthermore, we manage the Trenino Verde della Sardegna rail tourism services using both vintage railcars and historical steam trains. The overall network covers approximately 600 km.
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