Swing ATR220 Sassari

Tuesday 10.10.23

In retrospect today has to be seen in comedic terms, although it did not feel remotely like that at the time.  All tour participants, except three, decide to take the non-railway cultural option to visit local nuraghes.  The tour manager seemed keen to keep the group together which I can understand – but there is a railway line to be covered and we are never likely to pass this way again.

The plan is to travel from Sassari to Ozieri-Chilivani which is where the line joins the main line between Cagliari and Olbia which we will cover towards the end of the holiday – so it is a major section of the island railways we cannot otherwise cover.

Tickets purchased very easily we emerge onto the station.  The station is being given an extra heavy cleaning and there are a number of individuals wandering around.  We eventually learn that there is a new train launch today and apparently there are people on the ground to ensure the press saw the best of the railway!  The Swing trains commenced delivery in 2020 and have been extended to other routes – with this being the formal launch for Sassari to Olbia!

Our train arrives and we head eastwards for a pleasant trip through the countryside and we make decent progress across country.  It is comfortable and certainly less noisy than the units in use in Corsica.  The line feels as if the track has been renewed fairly recently and there are plenty of passing loops at most stations – although not many trains pass us.  If there is any freight moved on these railways we did not see any during our visit.

The service is on its way to Olbia and on checking we find that we could have continued all the way there as it will be the same unit coming back.  However we decided to disembark at Ozieri-Chilivani as planned.   A quick search on Ozieri before leaving the UK had shown a selection of restaurants.

A wander around the area adjacent to the station shows that we have made a serious mistake.  We are actually in Chilivani – which is largely an industrial area on the other side of the railway to which there is no immediate access.  The bus departing at high speed as we left the station presumably provides a link to Ozieri  which is around 5 miles and 90 minutes walk away.  Whoops.

Sardinia Blues train

Residing in a siding at the station and not moving is one of the newer “Blues” trains which have multiple power modes as work is progressing in the south of the island from Cagliari  on the main line with a rolling electrification programme which sounds like a very good idea.

The station has a buffet and we result to what it can provide.  To demonstrate that there is little choice in the area we are joined by 5 members of the local constabulary who also take their lunch – we are extremely well behaved!  No marks for research and proves that one should always book ahead.

We return to Sassari where the group re-assembles for the afternoon service to Alghero which is another ARST service using the same units which work to Sorso as some are through workings.  Interestingly the two lines take completely different alignments on leaving Sassari with the line we are now on eventually climbing above the line we took earlier and then running alongside each other in the river valley until we make a turn to the right as the other line turns left.

Our destination is the seaside town of Alghero and the train has a high load from start to finish – obviously a popular journey.  it is 28 km but used to be longer as the route used to run to a station at the port – but has been cut back no doubt to facilitate the walk along the sea front which we will enjoy tomorrow.  Again the track and ride are good and with the passing loops more capacity available than needed.

We do not go far for dinner tonight – the hotel next door has a decent looking restaurant and we meander there and taking it easily and we have a nice view out over the water.  Not the best of days in terms of our organisation – and no-one to blame but myself for not doing a more diligent check of station location in relation to habitation!