South Tyrol, Italy: The Reopening of the Vinschger Railway Service
The Vinschger railway line in Vinschgau, South Tyrol, had long been written off until it was brought back to life in 2005 after lying dormant for ten years. And all the indications are that the old railway line, which celebrated its 100th
anniversary in 2006, is set to be a modern success story. The picture was quite different in 1989. Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian state railways, had drawn up closure plans. For another two years the steam locomotive ran every Sunday along the spectacular 60 km alpine route from Mals to Meran. Yet between the vineyards and apple orchards of the Vinschgau all the emphasis was on cars, and only tourists bought tickets for train so in 1991 the railway line was shut down. It was only in 1999, after the Italian state railway had handed over the network to the province of South Tyrol, that the astonishing relaunch began.
More Passengers Than Expected
The Vinschgauer railway line has been brought back to life (Source: CIPRA).
Although the old route is a masterpiece of engineering, after its long period of closure it proved necessary to completely overhaul the 61 bridges, two tunnels and 54 railway crossings, and also install new safety systems. But the railway line built in 1906 is not just a piece of vintage railway nostalgia; it has to be profitable, too. One year after it was reopened the Vinschger railway line already had 100,000 passengers a month, more than the initiators had expected. And what’s more the journey time between Mals and Bozen is now almost as short as it is by car – but without the stress and the traffic jams.
This website presents Vinschgau, where the project on the left was initiated,
as a holiday area.
This website features a specific article on the history of the Vinschger Bahn, the railway that is mentioned on the left.