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History of the Carnia – Tolmezzo – Villa Santina railway

The “Carnica” Carnia-Tolmezzo-Villa Santina railway, strongly desired by the Carnic populations since the last decade of the nineteenth century under the Kingdom of Italy and built and managed by the Venetian Company of Padua (one of the largest private construction companies railway at the turn of the two centuries), was inaugurated on May 9, 1910 to connect the main Carnian valley, or the middle course of the Tagliamento, both to the railway «Pontebbana» and then to the capital of Friuli and the rest of the Italian railway network, both in Carinthia and the capital of the Empire, Vienna, as well as in central and northern Europe (the border with the Austro-Hungarian empire was in Pontebba).

However, as soon as it became clear, the “Carnica” railway naturally also responded to distinct military and strategic reasons, being a typical line of support for a possible but very probable war front, the one against Austria. Two lines leading to the narrow-gauge front were then departed – the Tolmezzo-Paluzza-Moscardo (1917 – 1931) and the Villa Santina-Comeglians (1919 – 1935) – more flexible than the ordinary and large-gauge ones. long cheaper and faster construction, however slower, with the task of prolonging the positive effects of the most important railway lines (transport of troops, ammunition and supplies) to the front.

From this point of view, despite being conceived from the outset as a line of economic and social development for the Carnic populations, Carnia-Tolmezzo-Villa Santina radically changed its functions during the Great War, placing itself – in addition to what was above specified – as the first trunk for a broader and more ambitious connection, the one towards Calalzo-Pieve di Cadore, through a pass tunnel that would have passed the Mauria pass, and from here, through a difficult but not impracticable path, along the valley from Boite, it would be pushed up to the Val Pusteria to cross the Alps, according to some design hypotheses, through the high Val Aurina.

“The passenger and freight service took place regularly until the end of the Second World War, presenting significant volumes of traffic during the two world wars. Of particular importance is the transport of timber and, from the 1930s onwards, all the direct material coming from the Cartiera di Tolmezzo. After the Second World War the line began to decline: as early as 1955 the Venetian Company began to replace some bus rides that, from 23 June 1958, will definitively replace the passenger service; the service destined to the paper industries of Tolmezzo ended on November 23rd 1967.

After the earthquake that devastated Friuli in 1976, in order to facilitate the industrial rebirth of Carnia and the whole of Friuli, the partial restoration of the line for freight traffic up to Tolmezzo was planned. Therefore a new terminal was built in the industrial area and in 1987 the line was reopened; for the next ten years the line supplied the paper mill with raw materials, but the flood occurred in Carnia in the

1998 made the line impractical, causing the definitive suspension of the service. ”

In the meantime the ownership of the line was assumed by Co.S.In.T. (Consorzio Sviluppo Industriale di Tolmezzo), which provides for the execution of extraordinary maintenance works to some sections of track with the laying of rails of 50 kg / m on crosspieces in c.a.p ..

Today this route is no longer connected to the national network, since in the station of R.F.I. di Carnia (in the municipality of Venzone) the relative turn-off and some sections of the track have been removed to coincide with the construction of the new AV-AC Pontebbana railway.

However, from Carnia to Tolmezzo the track is still present, even if submerged by the vegetation that in the meantime has grown excessively.