Rail comes to the rescue: woods debris in Italy to be removed by rail

Image: Autonomous Province of Bolzano

The woods of South Tyrol, a region in northeastern Italy, have been significantly damaged over the last few years due to storms and beetle infestations. The many trees that did not survive these events will now be transferred to companies in the Tyrol region, in Austria, on freight trains.

The first convoy, tractioned by a diesel locomotive provided by Rail Traction Company (RTC) left the station in Bolzano, South Tyrol’s capital, on 25 May. For this service, which is planned to run three times per week, two additional tracks will be added at the station. Each train will be made up of 18 wagons, which equals to 40-45 trucks, as the Autonomous Province of Bolzano pointed out.

Other than RTC, the Austrian railway company ÖBB and Italian infrastructure manager RFI are also involved in the collaboration for this project. The role of freight forwarding was assigned to Kofler Holz, a local company specialised in wood transportation.

The recent devastation of South Tyrol’s woods

Storm Vaia in 2018 and the European spruce bark beetle in 2019 led to parts of the woods in the area being completely torn apart. The storm caused damage to various trees that led to the beetle, which nests in and feeds on wood, to proliferate. Using the rail to remove the damaged woods might speed up the cleanup process and the plan of reducing the presence of the beetle.

Image: Twitter. © Giardini Italiani

Some of the woods was also used by wood artist Marco Martalar, who used them to build various statues to preserve the memories of Storm Vaia. Martalar worked on seven monuments, including a dragon, a winged lion, a wolf, a rooster, a basalisc, a bee, a hand, and a deer.

Image: Twitter © Tiziana95627735

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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