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Underground Rome (Metro C gets an F)

February 3, 2012

This week Italy’s Corte dei Conti (whose principal role is to safeguard public finance) published its observations on the C-line of the metro.  In the 22-year history of the project, costs have skyrocketed, work has been slow, and the project has undergone countless changes. According to experts, this all could have been avoided if, instead of insisting on a misguided strategy which focused solely on one subway line, Rome had instead considered an integrated transit solution. And, if instead of adopting 20th century heavy rail technology incompatible with Rome’s particular archaeological heritage, it had opted for more innovative alternatives.

Counter proposals existed;  in 1995 the national government put together a proposal based on light-weight, automated technology, a project which was approved, financed and then ignored. Professionals like engineer Antonio Tamburrino have for years been battling for a more appropriate solution to Rome’s mobility challenge.  Tamburrino’s ideas are the focus of a series of videos Studio Rome has produced, to be released on-line in coming months.  We are also planning a dedicated web site which will serve as a multi-lingual, international forum for discussion of transportation (and other issues of sustainable urbanism) in Italy’s capital. Advance viewing of the work in progress is available on my YouTube channel (with English captions available by activating “CC” at bottom): Part 1 and Part 2.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Rankin permalink*
    February 3, 2012 16:00

    For further information Francesco Di Maddaloni’s dissertation for the London School of Business and Finance available on-line. at


  2. February 4, 2012 17:26

    I was a member of the panel of expert of the italian government , of the department Roma Capitale, for the mobility of Rome for 2000 Jubilee. Our panel received many representatives of metro factories, coming from many contries of the world (Japan, Canada, France, etc.). When the Rome municipality decided to ignore the suggestion of the government, for the light authomatic technology, going toward the choice of traditional heavy technology, the project had a significant stop. As a member of the panel, and a friend of both counterparts, Nicola Scalzini, undersecretary of State, in one side, and Francesco Rutelli, Mayor of Rome, in the other side, I wrote a letter to both. In this letter I asked to stop fighting and to launch an international bidding with no reference at all to the light or heavy technology. But only asking the performance (i.e. number of stops, passenger capacity, frequence, years of management, etc.). Leaving the bidders free to submit in their proposals their own technology. Some weeks after having received my letter, Francesco Rutelli, the Mayor of Rome, meeting me , made his compliments on my suggestion. But nothing happened. We losted an occasion to have , ready for the Jubilee of the year 2.000, the third line of subway in Rome.
    Catello Masullo


  3. February 5, 2012 14:40

    Sono contento di apprendere che la Corte dei Conti abbia bocciato in pieno il progetto della Metro C e, dati alla mano, mi sarei sorpreso del contrario!
    Al di là dei numeri e delle discussioni in atto – soprattutto in questi giorni – io credo che quando si mette in atto un progetto di pubblico interesse (??) che dunque è pagato con i soldi dei cittadini, bisognerebbe, prima di procedere, porsi alcune domande. Provo a porre queste domande alla “linea C” della metro di Roma:

    E’ un progetto utile?
    No, anzi…

    Allora è un progetto moderno?
    No, anzi…

    Be’ allora sarà un progetto efficiente!
    No, anzi….

    Vabbè, allora sarà un progetto economico!
    No, anzi…

    Ma allora, ci chiediamo, che progetto è? A chi è realmente utile???

    Booooohhhh!!! Sono 20 anni che noi cittadini aspettiamo una risposta!!!

    Valerio Zolito


  4. Antonio Alei permalink
    February 6, 2012 11:43

    Before engaging in any serious discussion about mass rapid transit in Rome it is necessary answer to some fundamental questions.

    What is Rome?

    What lies beneath Rome’s surface?

    How has Rome grown in the last century?

    Which are the most important economic activities in Rome?

    Who are the actual Romans?

    Well, when we find the correct answers to the above questions (which nowadays nobody has done), we’ll solve the endemic Roman transport problem (that’s a false problem in a false city).


  5. February 6, 2012 15:30

    Grazie Paolo Ercolani e Tom Rankin per queste eccezionali notizie!
    Sentir parlare di questi progetti così civili e avanzati sembra un sogno.
    Spero davvero che non resti tale. Siamo sempre disponibili per un contributo di sensibilizzazione. Faremo girare il più possibile.
    Sempre con stima per il vostro lavoro straordinario.
    FrancescA D’Ascani


  6. Tom Rankin permalink*
    February 7, 2012 18:31

    Another useful “History of Rome” from the point of view of mobility is the interview with Antonio Alei at (in Italian only unfortunately but maybe I’ll find time to publish an English version)



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  2. Update on Metro C « still sustainable city blog: ROME

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