DIECI goes underground

What do Brescia, Milan and Warsaw have in common as far as transport is concerned? Well, one thing is traffic, and it was to combat increasing congestion and pollution that all three cities built underground railways. Today, most major European cities have them.

The first was the London Underground, better known as the Tube, which overcame initial problems like providing ventilation for steam locomotives to become Europe’s most extensive system.

The second was Budapest, which was also the first fully electrified line. Italy’s first true underground railway was in Rome, inaugurated in 1955, followed in 1964 by that of Milan. Brescia’s opened in 2013, making Lombardy one of the very few regions in the world to have two underground systems.

The Warsaw metro, like Milan’s, was first mooted in the early years of the twentieth century, but was not inaugurated until 1995.

It is therefore very modern, crossing the city in only thirty minutes and carrying some 580,000 passengers each year.

Seven Italian cities have metro systems: Catania, Milan, Naples, Rome, Turin, Genoa and Brescia. There are another sixty elsewhere in Europe, excluding Russia and Turkey, while other cities have light rail systems that are evolving into metros.

Underground railways are living and continuously growing systems that adapt to the mobility needs of each city’s growing population.

Thanks partly to recent EU grants, the Milan and Warsaw metros are building new lines, and other cities such as Brescia are creating new networks from scratch and integrating them with their existing urban transport systems.  Brescia and other European cities are using Dieci equipment to finish tunnels, and also to build other major infrastructure such as shafts, stations, roads, and warehouses.

The sites are vast, and almost everything travels vertically. The digging is done by tunnel boring machines, immense mechanical moles.

Photographs often show these side by side with Pegasuses, providing constant support both before they begin work (preparing the ground, moving items, and replacing parts such as cutters), and while they are drilling (moving and fitting hydraulic tubes and electrical cables, and keeping them supplied with materials).

Once the tunnel is dug, Pegasuses do most of the finishing work, such as consolidating and fitting out the walls, installing power ducts, and providing water, lighting, communications and other systems.

Metro tunnels begin with deep excavations that are then fitted out to become stations. In the absence of access ramps, all the materials and equipment have to be lowered to the bottom of the hole and, as work continues, lifted to the various levels of the project.

Since many stations are twenty metres deep, the Pegasus often appears in site pictures, ready to provide assistance with its long, powerful arm.

A lot of work also happens on the surface. Whole sections of the electricity, water, and gas systems, traffic lights, tramlines and roads must be taken out of use for as little time as possible.

Existing routes must be changed and new ones created, and controls and infrastructure installed, all in the middle of the city and without affecting the stability of adjacent buildings.

It’s no easy task, and once again Pegasuses and other models in the construction range are never far away. And these are just three of countless examples. There are 214 metro systems in the world, 791 lines, and 11,924 stations, so the chances are that at least one Dieci machine has been involved in the construction of most of them.