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Line and station today © Joachim Dejaco, CEO, Strutture Trasporto Alto Adige

The Venosta valley has a long East-West extension (very similar to the ALPSTAR case-study, Valtellina), no motorways but only an old, narrow national road. This road crosses the small villages and the main centers located in the valley and "absorbs" many different traffic streams (long distance, short distance, light and heavy vehicles, cars and buses). The requalification of the old railway was the right answer.

I Description of the measure

Line and station today © Joachim Dejaco, CEO, Strutture Trasporto Alto Adige

Title in original language: Riqualificazione della Ferrovia della Val Venosta (Merano-Malles)

Location of CNA: Italy

Municipality / regional entity: Bolzano Province

Category of the experience: Strategy
Type(s) of CNA:

Principal nomination: Other type : infrastructural
Secondary nomination(s): Technological

Thematic field(s):

Principal field: Transport
Secondary field(s): Land use

Spatial scale: Regional (small scale)
Time & duration:

Start date: 1999
Duration: 6 years (opening ceremony 05.05.2005)

Key word(s): Railway requalification


The main goal was a reduction of the car traffic along the valley which caused a very high pollution, many delays for people and goods, and a high number of accidents. The main goal was at the same time political (full support of the Bolzano Province) to give an answer to the inhabitants pressure; technical, with the introduction of a modern Light Rail Transit on the old railway path; environmental, to move people from private cars to public transport and reduce the traffic pollutants inside the valley.


The first activity carried out by the Province was the acquisition of the old and abandoned line from the National Railways Company (RFI). The second activity was a wide exploration to select the best possible technology to fit the revealed and potential demand. The third activity was the preparation of the technical project and, finally, the works execution. Total cost: 120 million Euro (no expropriations required).


The results are: - 2.5 million trips per year, including commuters (employees and students) and tourists; - a good frequency (a couple of trains every hour); - integration with private cars (parkings in every station with 30-80 parking lots) and local public transport (timetables totally coordinated); - integration with bicycle for hire, particularly for tourists; - well structured fare system for season tickets: more you travel, less you pay; single rodiofrequency card for the entire public transport system of the Province; payment once a month at the personal bank

II Assessment criteria

Line and stations in 1999 © Joachim Dejaco, CEO, Transport structures in Alto Adige

Mitigation effects: High

Thanks to the Railway, the cars removed from the road network are approximately 625,000 per year. Assuming an average production of 191 grams/km per car and and an average distance of 20 km/day travelled by each car, the CO2 saved is around 2,400 tons per year, a high value. Considering that Italian per capita emmissions are about 10 tons per year, it means about 250 persons' emissions saving!

Impacts on adaptation: Positive

The fact of building any roads and correlated infrastructures and of removing cars and their induction from the roads contribute to reduce territory vulnerability deriving from climate change. Moreover, this kind of land planning goes along with risk prevention objectives linked to floods, the reduction of slopes stability, the increase of loose phenomena.

Impacts on environment:

- Landscape: Positive
- Alpine ecosystems / biodiversity: Positive
- Water / soil / air: Positive
- "Other": None

The measure has a positive impact in terms of landscape, because the railway is an important "visibile landmark"; in terms of Alpine ecosystem, because the reduction of CO2 generated by cars has a positive effect on the environment; in terms of air quality for the same reasons as before. The fact of keeping mountain environment unchanged guarantees to conserve the high quality of water and soil.

Impacts on society:

- Social justice: Positive
- Regional / cultural identity: Positive
- "Other": None

The introduction of a collective, modern, efficient, non pollutant mode of transport is positive in terms of social justice, because it offers to the poorest people (students, trekkers and tourists, young people, housewives…) the opportunity to reach areas practically forbidden before. Positive in terms of regional identity too, because the new railway now is used to promote a different way of approaching to the valley, changing the behaviour of the tourists coming there.

Impacts on economy:

- Employment / job creation: Positive
- Added value / income: Positive
- Know how / competitiveness: Positive
- "Other": None

The rehabilitation of the Val Venosta Railway offered new jobs for the people working inside the public transport sector, including the services related to the tourism. The tourism, thanks to the railway, is now more interesting for the people that want to rent a bike, move around the valley and then come back using the new transport mode. The "rent a bike" service increased the economy of the valley directly and indirectly. Time saved from a long drive can be used for meals on site and/or visiting accomodation facilities or cultural centres.

Public relations impact and awareness-raising: High

The presentation of the new railway as a soft and clean mode introduced a new mode of travelling and a new "car-free" lifestyle, particularly for the young generations. Moreover, collective transport contains an high relational value and becomes an instrument of unification and social communication.

Transferability: High

The experience of Venosta Railway was transferred a few years later to another Alpine Valley in the same Province, Val Pusteria. Our idea is that this example could be easily used also in Valtellina (ALPSTAR's pilot area) and other similar valleys.

Cross sectoral and integrative approach: Medium

The railway rehabilitation is part of a more general strategy used by the Province Administration to improve the quality of the local environment and, in particular, to reduce CO2 emissions through energy saving in construction, the production of energy from renewable sources (e.g. biomass) and the sustainable management of the source.

Good governance: High

The Local Authorities (Municipalities) after a first "cold" approach, fully supported the project and have become an integral part of its success with the public.

III Executive body and contact information

Executive body: Administration

Strutture Trasporto Alto Adige SpA

Contact person(s):

Name: eng. Joachim Dejaco
Institution: Strutture Trasporto Alto Adige SpA
Address: Via Conciapelli 60 I-39100 Bolzano 
Phone: +39 0471 312 888
Fax: +39 0471 312 849
Email: [email protected]

Online information: New rolling stock and the new stations Line from the driver window

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