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.
those 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 or 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.
original 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.
or 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 obsolete).
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