BRANCHES FROM GIOIA TAURO
(Continued from 'Marina di Catanzaro')
The FC station is adjacent to the FS one, and an easy walk from the town centre. In the extensive station yard, in addition to under-worked, graffiti-splattered railcars, is a motley collection of rotting, grey-painted freight wagons from a bygone age, some of them with covered platforms for brakesmen. But freight on the FC networks ceased many years ago. And if FC does not look to its laurels, passenger traffic on the remains of the Gioia Tauro network will soon go the same sad way.
The two lines part company at the southern end of the station yard as they pass under the FS tracks, that for Cinquefrondi curving to the east and traversing the olive, orange and lemon groves of the coastal plain, the land sloping upwards to the foot of the mountains. In spite of the almost continuous chain of villages, patronage is surprisingly light. The jointed track is maintained in excellent condition; the almost empty railcar fairly romps along, attacking the ever-steepening gradients with gusto. As the foothills are reached the line starts to twist and turn, traversing a couple of small viaducts and threading a short tunnel. The views over the coastal plain open up, the line now heading in a generally northern direction as it makes for the town of Cinquefrondi, 256 m above sea level. In 1983 there were 11 ascending and 10 descending trains on weekdays; today the service is the opposite (10 ascending, 11 descending and one Taurianova to Cinquefrondi short working – but a number of trains only run during the school terms. At around 45 minutes, journey time is slightly shorter than in 1983!
Should closures occur, the Palmi branch would be first to go. This originally ran as far as Sinopoli S. Procopio (7 ascending and 6 descending trains in 1983) but in 1997 was pruned back to Palmi, a 12-minute run of just nine scenery-packed kilometres, with five train pairs daily (one of them only during school terms). Having passed under the FS tracks, the Palmi line launches itself across the deep valley of the Petrace on a girder viaduct parallel to those of FS (on the right) and the Nº. 18 main in coast road (on the left). It then attacks the wooded ridge which lies between the tributaries of the Petrace and the coast, the view westwards, on a clear day, embracing the 924 m summit of Stromboli out on the horizon. Halfway up, the line switches to the eastern side of the ridge, with equally stupendous views eastwards to the mountains. Palmi, 228 m above sea level, has two quite separate quarters. The line runs along one side of the tree-lined main street of the first of these, tramway fashion. Surprisingly, FC never considered it appropriate to provide a station or halt here!
(Continued on 'Tropea' page)