Rail transport in Vatican City
Vatican City railway station
|System||Holy See railway|
|Locale||Vatican City and Italy|
|Termini||Roma San Pietro
|Operator(s)||Ferrovie dello Stato|
|Line length||1.27 kilometres (0.79 mi)|
|Number of tracks||One|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
Rail transport in Vatican City consists of two 300-metre sets of rail tracks and two freight sidings within Vatican City (named Vatican Railway, Ferrovia Vaticana), the shortest national railway system in the world, with only one station. Access to Italian rail lines was guaranteed by the Lateran Treaty (1929), and tracks and station were constructed during the reign of Pope Pius XI. The only station is referred to as Vatican City (officially: Città del Vaticano [tʃitˈta del vatiˈkaːno], also named Stazione Vaticana [statˈtsjoːne vatiˈkaːna]).
Pope Gregory XVI (died 1846) prevented the construction of railways in the Papal States, and was reputed to have said "chemin de fer, chemin d'enfer" ("road of iron, road of hell"). Gregory XVI's successor, Pope Pius IX, began the construction of a rail line from Bologna to Ancona but the territory was seized by the armies of the Risorgimento in 1861 before it was completed. The utility of rail travel for the mass pilgrimages of the 19th century, beginning with those at Lourdes circa 1858, was one factor that softened opposition to such technology within the Roman Curia.
The construction of a railway station in Vatican City and its linkage to the Italian rail lines was guaranteed by the Lateran Treaty of February 11, 1929. The Directorate of New Railway Construction of the Ministry of Public Works of the Kingdom of Italy implemented this provision with construction beginning on April 3, 1929, to establish earthworks 38 m above sea level (the height of the "Roma - San Pietro" station) between Piazza Santa Marta and the Governor's Palace, Vatican. The construction of the viaduct leading to Vatican City was paid for by the Italian government; the station within the Vatican was financed from the ₤750 million indemnity agreed to in the Lateran Treaty's financial part. The total cost of construction was reported to be ₤24 million.
The station building (see below) was constructed between 1929 and 1933.
The first locomotive entered the Vatican in March 1932. The station was opened officially on October 2, 1934. A Railway Convention was ratified between Italy and Vatican City on September 12, 1934, on which date the property passed from Ferrovie dello Stato (Italian State Railways) to the Holy See. In October 1934 the Ministry of Public Works gave the completed rail lines to Vatican City and Ferrovie dello Stato, respectively. Legge sulle fonti del diritto (June 7, 1929) made Italian railway legislation binding on Vatican-controlled railways.
Pope John XXIII, on October 4, 1962, became the first pope to use the Vatican railway during his pilgrimage to Loreto and Assisi one week before the beginning of Second Vatican Council using the Italian presidential train; the trip was broadcast on the Eurovision Network. Prior to John's trip in 1962, Pope Pius IX had been both the last pope to visit Loreto (as the head of the Papal States) and the last pope to travel by train. John XXIII also arranged for the remains of Pope Pius X to be transferred to Venice using the Vatican railway.
Pope Francis's desire to open the Church's treasures to the public has resulted in a weekly special train from Vatican City Station that is open to the public and is provided by the Vatican Museums and the Italian railway. A special train for invited guests and reporters inaugurated the run with on 11 September 2015. This inaugural train was hauled by FS Class 625 steam locomotive 625-017, built in 1915. The same engine was used by the Italian royal family, and also hauled the train which carried Pope John XXIII to Loreto and Assisi in 1962. Scheduled trains use contemporary suburban rolling stock to travel from Vatican City railway station to Albano Laziale, via Castel Gandolfo.
The Vatican City railway station (in Italian, Stazione Città del Vaticano or Stazione Vaticana) is the only railway station of the Vatican Railway. It was built approximately 20 m from the Entrance Gateway by architect Giuseppe Momo. Construction began on April 3, 1929, and the station began operation in 1933. Its simple white, Italian marble design was described by writer H. V. Morton as "more like a branch of the Barclay Bank in London." The station building is composed of white marble, and its dimensions are 61 x 21.5 m. The central body is 16.85 m tall and the lateral ones 5.95 m. Part of the station building continues in use as passenger station and goods (rail freight) office, whilst part now houses the Vatican numismatic and philatelic museum. The railway station also houses the small Vatican tax-free department store, a private facility open only to Vatican subjects and diplomats.
The Vatican City State Railway branches off from the Rome to Viterbo railway line at the Roma San Pietro railway station and crosses Gelsomino valley via a 143.12 metre long masonry viaduct of eight 15.30 metre arches (bearing the Fasces and the Savoy Coat of Arms), which crosses Viale Vaticano (which it interrupts) and Via Aurelia. The Via delle Cave and the Via del Gelsomino are also interrupted by the viaduct and thus merge with the Via Aurelia.
Before passing through the Vatican City walls and terminating in the Vatican City railway station, the line passes under an arch decorated with the Coat of Arms of Pope Pius XI with a two-piece 35.5 ton iron gate which slides into the recesses of the Vatican walls. The gate is closed when there is no traffic scheduled on the line.
The railway has two tracks (partly located in Rome, outside the gateway), but only one is served by a station platform. Two terminal load tracks, for freight wagons, are situated on the northeast side of the building. They are linked to the main track that ends in a headshunt in a tunnel.
The station is near the Vatican Gardens, behind St. Peter's Basilica. The gateway separating the station from rail track in Italian territory is part of Leonine Wall. Other buildings near the station are the Governatorate Palace and the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The Vatican railway has been used primarily for importing goods (before automobile travel became more common and less expensive) into the Vatican and intermittently for ordinary passenger trains.
The planned papal train of Pius XI was never constructed and the Vatican has never employed any railway workers or registered any rolling stock. The official train of Pope Pius IX remains on display at the Museum of Rome in the Palazzo Braschi.
The Vatican City station has no regularly scheduled passenger trains. Pope Francis's desire to open the Church's treasures to the public has resulted in a weekly special train from Vatican City Station that is open to the public and is provided by the Vatican Museums and the Italian railway. Starting from September 12, 2015, on each Saturday, visitors to the Vatican Museums can board a train and travel to the Pontifical Villas in Castel Gandolfo. There, passengers can tour the newly created museum and visit the pontifical gardens as well as visit the town. The tour returns the same afternoon to the station of Roma San Pietro. The trains use contemporary suburban rolling stock to travel from Vatican City railway station to Albano Laziale, via Castel Gandolfo.
An FS freight car in Vatican station
- Transport in Vatican City
- Index of Vatican City-related articles
- Vatican Museums official website
- Vatican Museums official on-line ticket office
- Official English information
- Private Rail Cars of Pope Pius IX
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