As a point of interest, a portion of the Circumvesuviana railway line in Naples runs along the same stretch as did the first railway in Italy. That line was opened from Naples to Portici on October 2, 1839. It proved to be a popular novelty and also a good way for the king, Ferdinand II, to get from Naples out to his other palace in Portici, today the site of the Agriculture department of the University of Naples.
days, of course, you couldn’t really go anywhere by
train. If you wanted to go from Naples out to one of
the towns around Vesuvius or along the coast to Pompei
and then along the Sorrentine peninsula, that was a
pretty tough coach—and even horseback—ride in parts,
particularly along the cliffs approaching Sorrento. If
you really wanted to go from Naples to Sorrento, the
practical way was by boat.
Circumvesuviana is one of the two busy narrow-gauge
railways that provide important service in Naples.
(The other is the Cumana
line that serves the area to the west (that is,
towards Cuma). Transportation to the east into the
densely populated towns around Vesuvius would be
unthinkable without the Circumvesuviana. The
Circumvesuviana railway currently has almost 200
stations along 138 Km (86 miles) of tracks.
company was called the Società Anonima
Ferrovia Nola Ottaviano; it inaugurated service
on February 9, 1891, from Naples to Ottaviano, a
single narrow-gauge track for a stretch of some 23 km
(14 miles), using steam locomotives. In the first
decade of the 20th century, service was
extended towards Sarno, and a new stretch started to
move out along the coast towards Pompei and from Torre
Annunziata inland towards Poggiomarino, thus
encircling Vesuvius, putting the “Circum-” in Circumvesuviana.
At that stage, there were 64 km (40 miles) of track
serving 23 towns with a total of some 300,000 persons
(excluding the population of Naples, proper). The line
carried about 3 million passengers a year.
Main station in Naples
first electrified stretch was in 1905 from Naples to
Pompei and Poggiomarino. The First World War put a
stop to further modernization, but by 1926 the entire
railway was electric and transporting 6 million
passengers a year. In the 1930s, work continued on the
line towards Sorrento and by 1934 extended to
Castellammare di Stabia. In 1936 the company expanded
by acquiring and incorporating another smaller,
secondary railway that had run between Naples and
Baiano. The Second World War and an eruption of Vesuvius in 1944
stopped work on the Circumvesuviana. Postwar
construction included the difficult 10 km tunnel from
Castellammare to Vico Equense on the way to Sorrento;
the line was completed to Sorrento in 1948.
Modernization since that time has including continuous
upgrading of engines, coaches and station facilities,
as well as “doubling” the line along almost the entire
length. (The Circumvesuviana also runs the cable-car
from Castellammare di Stabia up to the top of Mt.
later, the Circumvesuviana (and the Cumana) will link
into the vast Naples metropolitana
subway line (which should be finished by about
the time that “beaming” around the galaxy becomes
feasible, thus rendering travel by choo-choo
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