The International Steam Pages

The Sardinian Narrow Gauge, 2017 

Before reading this, if you are not familiar with Sardinia, you may like to read James Waite's reports from 2009:

Clive Hepworth writes:

On the FS Standard Gauge, FS 2-8-0 744.003 is plinthed in Cagliari Central Station and looks in good external condition.

The train from Elmas Airport into Cagliari passes the main FS depot and 2 derelict 740 class 2-8-0s are easily visible, the leading loco is 151 with probably 303 behind.

On the 950mm narrow gauge lines, an interesting mix of relics, derelicts and plenty of graffiti seems to be the norm. Locations visited were;

At Monserrato (easily visited on the impressive Cagliari Metro line) are the main ARST narrow gauge workshops and closed museum. A friendly railway worker allowed me to check out the site where things seemed to be the same as in older reports with the 3 unusual OK Klien-Lindner 2-8-0Ts in an appalling state on 2 of the turntable roads. The Mallet 202 is in better condition (which doesn't say much!) while locked away in the closed museum are 402 and 43. There are no signs that the museum is likely to reopen soon.

Outside the main depot was the only operational narrow gauge loco 400 which did run a special Arbatax-Tortoli trip at the end of May as part of the Giro d'Italia celebrations.

Macomer, a derelict 2-6-0T lies in a line of equally derelict Fiat railcars. Alongside the depot, is FCS 5 2-6-0T Breda 1914 which was restored in 1989 but has been out of use since 1997.

Sassari Depot, 2 Breda 2-6-0Ts dating from 1930. Both locos were restored in the late 80s but have been stored OOU since 1997 (No.5, lower)) and 2002 (No.3, upper). Both locos, however had clearly seen some recent cosmetic improvements.

Tempo Pausania, 2 derelicts Breda 2-6-0Ts. Also saw 2 Trenino Verdes in action with a diesel hauled service from Sassari crossing a railcar and trailer from Palau Marina, the latter well filled with a pre-booked tourist group. Some attempt had been made to hide the graffiti on the railcars from Palau.

Mandas, a line of 3 2-6-0Ts in the narrow gauge yard with derelict wagons etc. The depot also seems to be home to 3 railcars and Breda diesel LDe 606.

At Isili, the remaining 2-8-0T FCS 301 has been plinthed in a park opposite the station. Formerly dumped at Mandas, I would think that this would have been a far more appropriate location for the locomotive given Mandas's status as an important junction and depot on the narrow gauge network.....I suspect that Isili has the greater political clout and wealth!

Sorgono, a long derelict 2-6-0T FCS No.1 Breda 1537-1914

Two Trenino Verde lines operate out of Mandas, north to Sorgono (infrequently) and a daily (except Tuesday) service to Seui, both use heavily graffitied railcars....not too sure how visitors react to "Pussy Girl" and "Killa" being prominently displayed on their mode of travel!. At the Arbatax end of the scenic branch, a similar, though diesel-hauled, service operates to Gairo. Both were almost empty when seen which may have something to do with the 4/5 hour layovers in small towns between 11/12-4ish, a time when most Sardinian attractions/businesses are taking a siesta.

Sardinia is an astonishingly beautiful and friendly island with wonderful food and wine. The narrow gauge network and infrastructure is still intact and an absolute gem. I was told that an attempt to close down the whole lot last year nearly caused a riot on the island and the proposal was withdrawn within 24 hours. ARST are certainly making a much better attempt at promoting the Trenino Verde services and I suspect that those based out of Sassari and the northern tourist hotspots/cruise destinations may do quite well. The most scenic lines out of Mandas seem to struggle, the external conditions of the vintage railcars are a disgrace! Monserrato should be a great place to visit but the obvious lack of funding seems to mean that the museum remains closed and the external exhibits rot away.

Rob Dickinson