Sicily is not a land of great works. In recent years, characterized by governments that have seen within them the proponents of “happy degrowth”, they have explained it to us in all sorts of ways
As you know, the Sicily it is not a land of great works. In recent years, characterized by governments that have seen within them the proponents of “happy degrowth”, they have explained it to us in all sorts of ways. According to them we do not need the Bridge over the Strait or even the High Speed, new motorways or large ports: we need more. Infrastructures “light and widespread on the territory”, so as to be able to develop the engine of the future development of Sicily: tourism! Something is already beginning to be seen. In Agrigento, work is being carried out on the Agrigento Bassa-Porto Empedocle “tourist” railway to build the new stop for the temple of Vulcano. The images of the works, visible on the facebook page of “Fondazione FS” (an organization of the FS group), which is carrying out the intervention, are very eloquent. They show the construction of a quay alongside the track, with the help of avant-garde materials: scaffolding tubes laid on the previously leveled ground. Among the images we also see some renderings that show the finished work, in all its splendor (?).
There is also an unspecified “stairway facing the Temple of Vulcano that can be used all year round by visitors to the Valley of the Temples” as explained verbatim in the post. The steps may be usable all year round, but we hope the stop itself is.
In fact, the railway line in question, just 10 km long, falls within the category of “tourist railways” which do not offer the regular service which, for better or worse, can be enjoyed on the ordinary network. These are, in fact, disused infrastructures or suspended from service, managed separately to be traveled by historic trains, made up of vintage rolling stock. In the case in question, as in most of the Italian tourist railways, the FS Foundation provides the trains and organizes the rides. They are therefore lines used occasionally, for occasional services. Often even rare: on the Agrigento-Porto Empedocle, in fact, the last train in transit, strictly “tourist”, was seen on the occasion of the “FAI days” of 26 and 27 March last. Nothing else has been planned for five months, despite the fact that the tourist season has been in full swing for a long time.
Perhaps the works of the new stop, which arrive in the middle of the tourist “Cesarini area”, are a harbinger of a more frequent use of the line? Perhaps the sixty million euros allocated by the PNRR to the Sicilian “tourist railways” are beginning to be spent in Sicily? But then, why adopt the methodologies we have described, and not create a real station, with materials suitable for continuous and definitive use (scaffolding, you know, by definition can be dismantled …) and perhaps with refreshment services and a shelter to shelter tourists waiting for the train from the sun? Strange way of using public goods, created at the service of the entire community. On the one hand, an upgraded line is kept in operation at the end of the 1990s (when it was electrified) with costly periodic maintenance interventions (several million Euros have recently been spent to redevelop the equipment); on the other hand, it is destined only to tourist operations by means of old vintage trains, moreover for a few days a year and, therefore, a few hundred travelers.
If this is the way to make the goods that Sicily abounds in more usable, with few annual connections and with third world structures, obviously we have not understood anything about the matter.
Just as we have not understood at all the reason for the limitation of the line to historical trains only. The mayors of the Empedoclino center have also asked a few questions: since 2014 (the year in which the line was destined only for historic trains), they have asked for the restoration of the line in all respects, tired of seeing their fellow citizens forced to use the bus despite the presence of a very central station.
Reply? Spades: the line remains “tourist”, even if there are practically no trains in circulation. The Region, party to the dispute as responsible for Local Public Transport, does not appear to have ever said a word about it; however, very attentive as it is to incoming tourist flows, it claims the initiatives implemented together with Trenitalia every summer, with various special trains for the places most frequented by vacationers. Of these, evidently, the Valley of the Temples is not part … Things that happen, unfortunately, when narration and rhetoric take the place of reality. And citizens, deprived of essential services, treated like a bunch of idiots.
This is how docks built with scaffolding pipes are passed off as important “fluid” infrastructures and railways practically closed to traffic for major tourist attractions. Which, finally, will save our depressed economy with their presences (even if lower, in all of Sicily, than those of Venice alone). Without the need for motorways, high-speed trains and a bridge over the Strait …