Filippo Ricci writes about Milan Smistamento Porte Aperte 2013. This year the open days
were on 23rd and 24th March but unfortunately pouring rain didn't stop a single minute on both days.
He visited on the 24th when a steam excursion to Verona was also scheduled.
FS 625 100, DR 50 3673, FS 880 051, FS 740 038, FS 685 196 resting in the roundhouse during the lunch break.
Milano Smistamento locomotive shed and marshalling yards were opened in 1931 and are still in use today as the main freight yard in Milan; originally the shed consisted of two roundhouses linked by a large repair shop; the western most roundhouse was later replaced by another repair shop so diesel and electric locos could be serviced in different buildings.
In the late 1990s a group of railwaymen started to repaint some electrics in heritage liveries and both the locos and the painters became extremely popular among enthusiasts.
As these old locomotives started to be withdrawn the group needed a formal organization to preserve them and organize open days to show its assets.
So the ARSMS association (http://www.milanosmistamento.com/arsms/default.asp
(link dead by October 2014) was born and from 2006 annual open days are held at the shed, usually in March or April.
Given the focus of the group on heritage electrics the main focus of these open days has always been heritage modern traction with taking this year as an example 19 electrics, 4 diesels, 2 EMUs and 4 DMUs.
Steam had always a token presence but this year seven locos were present of which six were in steam, the highest number of locos in steam for a single event since at least 1986.
DR 50 3673 being turned.
The star of the show was surely former DR no.50 3673 2-10-0 which is owned by a German association but has been leased to the Verbano Express Italian group
mainly for excursions in Switzerland from their base at Luino, just inside the Italian border.
As far as I know this is only the second time a German steam loco enters Italy in the preservation era; as you can see the loco just fits in the Italian loading gauge!
Also present were:
- 625 100, a standard FS mixed traffic 2-6-0 in custody of the Ale 883 association..
- 880 051, a standard FS branch line 2-6-0T also in custody of the Ale 883 association.
- 740 038, a standard FS freight 2-8-0 in custody of the AVTS association
- 685 196, a standard FS passenger 2-6-2 in custody of the Italvapore association
FS 740 038 entering the turntable.
The smallest loco present was FNM no.200 05, a veteran built in 1883 for Ferrovie Nord Milano and as such the oldest preserved locomotive in Italy, still cared for at the FNM shed in Novate Milanese.
FNM 200 05 and FS 625 100 top and tailed a pair of coaches for short demonstration runs around the shed complex.
Finally FS 835 226 0-6-0T shunting tank laid dismantled in the electric repair shop; no one officially declared it but from the extent of repairs being carried out is quite clear they are restoring it to working order. The boiler is off the frames devoid of all tubes and chimney; below you can see a view from the firehole towards the tubeplates and the open smokebox door.
The excursion to Verona
Just before 3 pm I joined an excursion to Verona consisting of three coaches and a bogie van (about 150 tons) powered by FS 685 196.
We started about ten minutes early but we had to do some complex shunts to get out of the marshaling yards and then we were held at the outer signal for some time to let a fast train pass.
All this took about 40 minutes so we left half an hour late; the engine and crew proved to be in splendid form however: just after the start we went up a flyover and we didn't slip.
Once out on the road we weren't overtaken by any other train so we maintained an average of about 55 mph including two stops over the 95 miles to Verona.
We arrived there about 17.30, 20 minutes late; the engine continued very well all the way and blowing off at every stop.
In Verona we were welcomed by a freezing wind and yet more rain but I summoned my last energies to guess the moves of the loco from station to shed then to scramble to the furthest platform.
This paid off handsomely because the loco and the delightful stainless steel van attached to it passed exactly where I expected and no one else was there to spoil my view (below).
Between the first and second shot the engine passed me and for a second or two I was enveloped in this
thick, warm cloud of steam, so thick indeed that for a moment I didn't see anything around me: only steam mixed with the characteristic aroma of a working steam locomotive; this will remain my strongest memory of the day.