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History of the Ferrovia delle Rive or Rivabahn (1887-1981)

[Text and image sources: wikipedia at, and others.]

During the Austria-Hungary period, the Ferrovia delle Rive, also known as Linea delle Rive and Rivabahn, was a railway line that took a path that wound its way along the banks of Trieste and linked the freight terminals of the two main stations of the city:
  1. Trieste Campo Marzio Smistamento at Trieste Campo Marzio Station (Triest Staatsbahnhof), and
  2. Trieste Centrale Scalo (originally called Barcola Smitstamento) at the Trieste Central Station
The continuous growth of the Port of Trieste at the end of the nineteenth century had created the need to widen the port areas, thereby resulting in the displacement some of the activities in an area of the city to the south of the Gulf of Trieste. The construction in the same area of a second train station in Trieste, the Sant'Andrea station that serviced the Trieste-Erpelle railroad that was operated by the Austrian Imperial Railways, also added the need for a link between the two city train stations. The only cost-effective and quick solution that was considered possible for this purpose at that time was the laying down of a temporary track along the town banks. Thus was created the Linea delle Rive or Rivabahn that was inaugurated on July 5, 1887.

The railway line ran along the city streets and was flanked and crossed by numerous side tracks. For safety reasons, restrictions were imposed on rail traffic - for example, the trains could move at maximum pedestrian speed of 5 km/hr., and were accompanied by a convoy of ground agents in front of the train. Part of the imagery of the Trieste center was the long and slow parade of freight wagons accompanied by an agent holding a red flag and performing security rituals.

The railway was constructed as a single track of 1435 mm normal gauge. At first, road sections used the Phoenix type of rail that was manufactured by the Phoenix Iron & Steel Company of Laar, near Ruhrort, Germany. Later, they used the mounted Vignoles rail.

The railway line linked directly to the marshalling yards of the Trieste Central Scalo station (Barcola Smistamento) and of Trieste Campo Marzio. The slipway of Barcola was also connected to Trieste's Central Station with the train convoys that were directed from this station to the switching station of Campo Marzio driving backwards. In 1923 a new entryway was opened between the Trieste Central freight and port areas and eliminated the reverse drive.

The railroad ran through the banks of Trieste from the current riva III Novembre to the banks of Grumula, then continued alongside Via di Campo Marzio. The rail line entered the works of Trieste Campo Marzio at the elevation of the existing Sant'Andrea route. The station serviced the following routes:

  • Linea delle Rive: Campo Marzio Centrale (1887-1981)
  • Linea Val Rosandra: Trieste Erpelle Cosina (1887-1959)
  • Linea Parenzana: Trieste Buie Parenzo (1902-1935)
  • Linea Transalpina: Trieste Salisburgo  Vienna (1906-1945)
In the original plans, the Rivabahn was intended for short-term temporary use, but it remained in service for ninety-four years mainly due to the high construction costs that an alternate route would incur because such line would have had to be constructed underground to bypass the city traffic. And so, the Rivabahn was placed near the most important urban areas and remained a familiar presence up to the time it was finally replaced in 1981 by the Galleria di Circonvallazione, a 5.7 km bypass railway line to the east of the city that opened on May 31, 1981.


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Created: Sunday, February 07, 2016; Last updated: Saturday, June 04, 2016
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