tramopicina - The Opicina tram - an update

The Opicina tram in Northern Italy, the world’s only tramway of its kind, has been shut nearly 5 years. Following an accident on Via Commerciale between Trieste and Opicina in August 2016, it was forced to close. The line was meant to reopen in March 2020 but then came the COVID pandemic. The last time I reported on the tram, the prognosis was it wouldn’t reopen til 2022. A scandal erupted when a business hired to rebuild the line basically abandoned it, leaving the Trieste municipality out of pocket. This was due to the fact that the firm had been convicted of criminal activity and municipal authorities are not permitted to engage such firms under Italian law.

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Track in Opicina village that was ripped up before the company responsible was found harbouring criminal convictions. Source: Twitter.

One important moment in the long running saga of Trieste’s famous closed tramway came in June 2021. The inquiry into the accident was conducted and it found the crash arose as a result of a failure to observe a red aspect signal as well as misconstruing a radio communication. As I reported in my previous post, the accident occurred because a timetabled service collided with a tramcar that was on test. Evidently one of these had been in the wrong place at the wrong time on the single track section at Via Commerciale. According to the verdict this was Car 404 which had been on test. It had come along a section of track that was descending and it collided with service car 405 which was climbing towards Opicina. It has always been maintained that the tramcars should have passed each other at Banne, a passing loop further up the line in the direction of Opicina. Anyway, the driver of car 404 was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

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The 2016 crash: 405 was in service heading towards Opicina and 404 on a test run to Vetta Scorcola, the upper terminal of the funicular. Source: Il Mattino

The violent crash between of the Opicina Tram on 16 August 2016 was determined by the failure to comply with a red light and a radio communication not listened to adequately . This is what emerged from the sentence filed in the past few hours following the trial triggered at the end of the investigation. Therefore, the Court of Trieste took steps to condemn in the first instance to eight months’ imprisonment for ‘wrongful train wreck Danger’ one of the two tram drivers involved in the accident who was in charge of 404. The second, however, the one in charge of car 405 was acquitted. This was announced by the local newspaper Il Piccolo. At the time of the accident as ascertained by the investigators, four cars were in service, 402, 406, 405 and 404. The latter however was not a scheduled car, but a ‘test’ car as technicians from Trieste Trasporti were testing it with the aim of testing the tightness of a bearing on one of the axles. Source: Trieste News.

Towards the end of 2021 new contracts were issued and new companies procured to undertake the works deemed necessary to bring the Opicina line up to standard and ensure it is safe to use. Work was well underway in December 2021 including replacing and upgrading the tracks. The new companies are FENIX Scarl of Bologna and Rosso Costruzioni of Trieste. See the videos below.

Elisa Lodi, Councillor for Public Works, announcing recommencement of work on the Opicina tram. Source: Youtube.

Reconstruction work recommences on the Opicina tramway. December 2021. Source: Youtube.

A campaign was also recently held by the Futura Movement (a local group who, among other things, wants to see the tramway restored) advocated that one of the tramcars should be parked at Piazza Oberdan (the tramway’s lower terminus in the centre of Trieste.) It was thought perhaps the presence of a tramcar would assure people work was underway and the line had a future – plus it would no doubt be of interest for tourists rather than the somewhat futile appearance the tram terminus currently conveyed.

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The Futura Movement campaigns for a tramcar to be placed at the Piazza Oberdan terminus in Trieste. Source: Twitter.

Futura Movement’s article on why a tramcar should be placed on exhibit at the Piazza Oberdan terminus.

Other matters that have ensued involve several incidents with drivers taking their cars along the defunct tram tracks and causing accidents. Indeed in November 2021 someone in a Mercedes A170 attempted to drive down the funicular section! Its said this was due to an incorrect route indication (a Sat Nav error perhaps?) See Rainews for details of this incident.

Trieste’s famous tram stays closed.

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