Florence T2: A contemporary masterpiece

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On inauguration day, two T2 trams within the part widespread to T1 alongside Santa Maria Novella station. Picture courtesy of
G. Mantovani

Florence’s long-awaited T2 tramline was initially anticipated to open alongside the extension to T1 in July 2018 (see TAUT 970), however a sequence of delays meant that the brand new 5.3km (Three.Three-mile) Santa Maria Novella – airport route opened on 11 February this 12 months. Public service adopted a proper opening ceremony on the airport attended by the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, and different nationwide and native authorities.

The road, on a completely reserved and paved right-of-way, options ten intermediate stops in addition to one that’s at the moment not activated, plus two termini. The tip-to-end journey time is 22 minutes. Trams run each 4 minutes and 20 seconds for a lot of the day, with 15 days of free journey following the opening. A number of bus routes within the space have been reorganised as feeder companies.

A route by means of town

The Piazza dell’Unità terminus is positioned beside the Santa Maria Novella church; the unique plans to proceed the road by means of the historic centre, serving Duomo and San Marco squares, had been curtailed following a 2009 determination to pedestrianise the world surrounding the Duomo.

The tramstop right here is provided with shock absorbers mounted on a low wall constructed for this function. No different terminus on the system is provided with such heavy tools, most likely meant to guard the narrower road in entrance from doable runaways: both manner this wall makes a visible assertion that no tram can trespass into town’s historic centre.

A delta junction connects to T1, together with a highway intersection with one other instantly after the delta, making this a crucial location for each tram and highway visitors. T1 and T2 share 370m of tracks, together with the Alamanni Stazione cease; this level sees a tram each 130 seconds in every route, thought of to be the utmost move supported by the road.

Shortly after leaving the junction with T1, T2 enters an space previously occupied by railway upkeep services, with a spectacular passage by means of the Mazzoni constructing – a notable instance of rationalistic structure from the early 20th Century that’s being restored to its unique look.

The road then passes by means of the development website of the brand new underground station for high-speed rail companies. A tramstop is already in place, ready for the completion of this extremely controversial mission for which it’s tough to foretell a gap date – and even the sort of service it can host.

The following notable location is the 230m San Donato viaduct that permits passage for the tramway throughout the Mugnone River and an essential roundabout in addition to introducing two bicycle and pedestrian lanes. These lanes, in addition to the overlaying of the bridge’s metal construction with a metallic shell, remained incomplete on inauguration day. The San Donato – Università cease serves an essential business centre, the College’s social science campus, a brand new growth together with housing and a park, and, barely additional away, the brand new metropolis courts.

On its technique to the airport, three different stops serve the densely-populated Novoli space. After passing beneath the railway line to Pisa, the tramway heads underground in a 500m cut-and-cover tunnel, together with the
Guidoni cease, serving a big park-and-ride facility that ought to take away vacationer bus and automobile visitors coming into town. A brand new cease on the railway is deliberate, linked by a pedestrian bridge.

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Simply past the airport terminus is a brief twin-track space, though it’s not clear whether or not this may be used for the deliberate extension to Sesto attributable to a doable battle with different plans for a brand new runway for the rising airport.

T2 has taken on the nickname ‘Vespucci’ – celebrating the traditional explorer and navigator after whom the airport can be named – whereas the prolonged T1 line is understood domestically as ‘Leonardo’ in honour of famed artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci. It doesn’t appear that these nicknames have entered widespread use, nevertheless.

Trying to the long run

The present two-line community serves solely a fraction of the essential west and north-west suburban areas of town, and no service is obtainable to the central, east and south areas.

But the success of the present community has elevated expectations from fiorentini excluded from the tramway’s protection and new traces, and extensions are already at a sophisticated stage of design. The primary three of those may see the beginning of works earlier than the tip of 2019.

T2 to San Marco

The choice to truncate T2 on the fringe of town’s historic centre has left the primary vacationer points of interest a long way from any tramstop. In an try and recuperate some service with out laying tracks near the Duomo, a U-shaped department will hyperlink the railway station to Piazza San Marco – 100m from the gallery internet hosting Michelangelo’s world-famous ‘David’.

The 1.7km (1.05-mile) extension will begin from a delta junction that’s already partially put in alongside T1, near the Fortezza cease, reaching Piazza della Libertà by a median reservation on the massive Lavagnini boulevard; it can then flip again into the centre for a loop within the historic sq..

The final part from Piazza della Libertà to Piazza San Marco will probably be in two parallel roads for the up and down traces. It’s not but clear which service can be operated on this department, almost certainly an extension of T2 with the abandonment of the brand new Unità terminus. In any case, it will additional lengthen the critically saturated part operated by each traces and embody two new intermediate stops.

T4: Le Piagge, San Donnino and Campi

The scarcely-used railway tracks that depart Leopolda (the primary station in Florence, terminus of the road to Pisa that opened in 1848 and host to a railway workshop lower than 20 years in the past, now an exhibition centre) have impressed proposals for T4. The T3 designation was used for the road to Careggi earlier than its opening as an extension of T1. This 6.2km (Three.Eight-mile) route would characteristic 12 intermediate stops, and for the preliminary Three.5km (5.6 miles) run on a conversion of the railway alignment that’s at the moment utilized by a couple of native companies to Empoli every day.

The road will then go beneath the railway to affix a parallel reservation, serving the Le Piagge residential space and entry to a brand new depot. Because of the peculiarity of the route, the road could have simply 4 highway intersections.

At Leopolda, the tracks would hook up with T1 however T4 will cease right here with transfers to T1 essential to penetrate town additional. That is thought of essential in decreasing tramway congestion on the primary railway station. There are, nevertheless, considerations concerning the switch at Leopolda from the already-crowded trams coming from Scandicci. Contradictory considerations regard the anticipated patronage: the alignment is lateral, and a bit indifferent, from the extensively-built space of Through Baracca, which isn’t removed from the newly-opened T2.

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The road is deliberate to be ultimately prolonged from Le Piagge by one other 6km (Three.7 miles) to serve San Donnino and Campi Bisenzio; the latter is the centre of a municipality of virtually 50 000 residents, till now with no rail connection.

T2 to Sesto Fiorentino

Constructing on the newest line, T2 will proceed to the College’s scientific campus near Sesto Fiorentino. As this municipality of 50 000 residents is already coated by regional practice companies, it’s believed that the majority ridership will probably be generated by the college.Some due to this fact query whether or not there will probably be sufficient patronage to justify the brand new line, however it may be anticipated that such a hyperlink will revitalise the campus that till now has suffered from isolation attributable to its distance from the opposite College websites. The extension will characteristic eight stops over 6km (Three.7 miles).

Strains to Bagno a Ripoli and Rovezzano

Probably probably the most vital growth would be the realisation of two traces within the east of town to serve densely-populated areas and enterprise districts. Moreover, these traces will ultimately present diametrical tram routes, though, most likely, with out direct companies. Technical and financial research have already been accomplished and state funding recognized beneath the framework of the latest name for the analysis of tram and metro tasks. Partial European funding can be obtainable by means of the Tuscany Area.

Each traces would originate in Piazza della Libertà, with connections to T2. The primary, roughly 7km (four.Three miles) lengthy, will run on the jap a part of the historic ring boulevards and alongside the Arno River to the prevailing Giovanni da Verrazzano bridge. A new bridge will probably be constructed for diverted automobile visitors. On the opposite river financial institution the road will proceed alongside Viale Giannotti and Viale Europa to the border of Florence. There it can enter Bagno a Ripoli, a municipality of about 25 000, the place each the terminus and a brand new depot will probably be positioned. An present however scarcely-used park-and-ride can be revitalised, taking automobile visitors away from the Chianti area and motorway visitors from the south.

The route alongside the ring boulevards has raised considerations a few supposed lack of capability for highway visitors as all different tramway traces in Florence run on reserved lanes. One other problem from the Monument and High-quality Arts Workplace has voiced considerations about tree preservation, so it is vitally probably that the boulevards part will probably be constructed with out overhead line tools.

The second 6km (Three.7-mile) line will run alongside Viale Don Minzoni, crossing the railway belt at Le Treatment and persevering with alongside Viale dei Mille to succeed in the current soccer floor (a brand new one is foreseen in a special location) and different sport services, in addition to Campo di Marte railway station. This route would serve one other densely-populated district, terminating at Rovezzano railway station.

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The town centre problem

The extension of T2 to Piazza San Marco can’t by itself satisfactorily serve town centre – the world contained in the ring avenues bigger than 3km2 (1.2 sq. miles). Transfers to small buses, already serving some areas of the inside metropolis, wouldn’t be passable both because of the extreme variety of autos required to supply a suitable service. It could additionally require one other change of mode.

The most suitable choice would due to this fact be a barycentric tram route and it have to be identified that good public transport is vital to keep away from a unfavorable city drift, whereby residents and companies depart the centre, expelled by tourism – a phenomenon that has grow to be increasingly more urgent for Florence.

The unique T2 alignment traversed the centre, from the primary railway station to Piazza Beccaria, splitting into two tracks after passing the Duomo; an ideal diametrical alignment which was sadly incompatible with some very slender roads.

Within the first years of this century a variant was outlined, turning to the left earlier than the Duomo and working on Through Martelli to Piazza San Marco after which onto Through Cavour to the terminus in Piazza della Libertà. No overhead line and interlaced tracks had been foreseen for a 300m part close to the Duomo. The lack of patronage from the deserted jap half was compensated by the department in the direction of the north, and a cease close to the Duomo was at a suitable strolling distance from many primary areas of the historic space. This variant gained approval, however in 2009 the brand new municipal administration cancelled the central part, justifying this as a consequence of a large pedestrianisation zone across the Duomo. One should deduce they weren’t conscious of the complete compatibility of trams with pedestrian areas seen in so many European cities.

For a time, an underground crossing was seen as a reply nevertheless it quickly grew to become clear this wasn’t the best resolution because of the many buildings of historic significance and geotechnical components that may require a route deep under the floor. The tunnel would additionally must be about 4km (2.5 miles) lengthy so as to attain areas the place the entrances could possibly be positioned – this may have meant excessive building and operation prices, unjustifiable for a single tram line. Furthermore, accessibility would have been poor. It appears, sadly, very tough to discover a resolution that ticks all of the bins.

As an apart, a side-effect of the shortage of a transverse hyperlink by means of the centre is that the deliberate new traces to the east will pressure a change of auto at Piazza della Libertà to succeed in the primary railway station, because the congested part between Fortezza and Alamanni will probably be at capability. The general journey time would simply be higher than the time taken by the direct bus routes ten years in the past, with a possible discount in attractiveness.

One should hope that the passage alongside the Duomo will probably be reconsidered, to lastly join tracks in Piazza dell’Unità and Piazza San Marco within the not too distant future.

Article appeared initially in TAUT 977 (Could 2019).

 

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