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Report - Almost the Floriana Tunnel (Malta Railway) - November 2015

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Visited with @The devil child

    In September I reported on the Mdina Railway Tunnel, which is at the southern end of the former Malta Railway. As the Malta Railway had two tunnels at either end of it's 8 mile line, I recently returned to Malta to attempt the other tunnel – the tunnel that goes through Floriana and into Valletta.

    This explore didn’t quite go to plan and I’m now thinking that the tunnel we entered was nothing to do with the railway, but probably an air raid shelter? Not only that, but the police turned up just as we climbed out. Fortunately Maltese Police are not very bright, and despite being covered in dust, looking suspicious and carrying big camera tripods, we blended into the crowds and hid in a bar.

    Big respect to @Bovine who did this tunnel in 2010. I now appreciate how difficult this one is to crack.

    HISTORY

    The first proposal to build a railway in Malta was made in 1870 by J. S. Tucker. The main reason was to connect the capital Valletta with the former capital Mdina so the journey time between the two cities would be reduced from 3 hours to less than half an hour. A narrow gauge railway system designed by John Barraclough Fell was initially proposed. In 1879, this was dropped in favour of a design by the engineering firm of Wells-Owen & Elwes, London. In 1880, the newspaper The Malta Standard reported that "in a short space of time, the inhabitants of these Islands may be able to boast of possessing a railway", and that the line was to be open by the end of 1881.

    There were some problems with the acquisition of land to build the railway, so construction took longer than expected. The line was opened on 28 February 1883 at 3pm, when the first train left Valletta and arrived at Mdina after about 25 minutes.

    Finances of the railway always proved critical. On 1 April 1890 the first proprietor, the Malta Railway Company Ltd., went bankrupt and the railway stopped running. As a result of this the government took over the railway, invested in its infrastructure and reopened traffic on 25 January 1892. From 1895 on an extension of the line was under work aiming for the British barracks at Mtarfa behind the historic city of Mdina. This extension was opened for traffic in 1900. In order to build this extension, a tunnel had to be constructed under Mdina and this is the focus of this report.

    The introduction of buses contributed to the decline of the Malta Railway. In 1903 a company was founded which ran tramways on Malta from 1905 on, partly parallel to the railway line, and this competition had a negative effect on the railway's finances. The first buses were introduced in 1905 and became popular in the 1920s. This contributed to the decline of both the railway as well as the tramway. The tram company closed in 1929, while the railway line stopped operating on 31 March 1931.

    During the siege of Malta in World War II, the railway tunnel running under the fortifications of Valletta was used as an air-raid-shelter.

    Over the years, long stretches of the former railway line were surfaced with tarmac and converted into roads. Some of the railway buildings are still in existence. The Mdina tunnel has been used for mushroom farming but now stands derelict.

    REPORT

    The railway line enters Floriana on this little viaduct at the Porte de Bombes. It enters a very short tunnel through the outer defenses before emerging and then entering a much longer tunnel at the inner defensive walls. The short tunnel through the outer defences is now a police storage depot and all tunnel portals are sealed. But we knew that there was once an underground station that could be a way in.

    [​IMG]

    The longer tunnel tunnel ends at the huge moat that surrounds Valletta - now a busy construction site.
    [​IMG]

    and in the day...
    [​IMG]

    We decided to walk the length of the tunnel on the surface and work out a way in. We could follow the air shafts
    [​IMG]

    And we found this which we assumed at the time would have been the entrance to the underground Floriana Station
    [​IMG]

    And in we went...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sadly the tunnel was only about 50m long and was bricked up at the far end
    [​IMG]

    Interesting graffiti though...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And all sorts of stuff dumped down here
    [​IMG]

    But by now it was increasingly clear to us that this was not a railway tunnel. A quick look on Google Earth and we found out that we were about 50m away. In fact we had no idea what we were in. I can only assume an air raid shelter and it was heading away from the line of air shafts. So we decided to leave and hunt for the tunnel we wanted... but just as we found the true way in the police turned up.

    MISSION FAIL... Must try harder
     
    mw0sec and The devil child like this.

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  2. The devil child

    The devil child 28DL Regular User
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    I managed to get to the Floriana railway tunnels are well sealed now due to the live cable runs to Valleta, here is a few pics ...

    An air shaft above the Valleta to Floriana tunnel
    [​IMG]

    Looking downthe old train station platform
    [​IMG]

    The walkway from Floriana to the platform
    [​IMG]

    The walkway again
    [​IMG]

    The old tunnel entrance in the distance now well sealed
    [​IMG]
     
    mw0sec and Bertie Bollockbrains like this.
  3. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Good to see that you returned and finished this project off.

    I still remember the words I said seconds before that police car turned up..."Let's go for a coffee as we're looking suspicious" Hmm guess that jinxed it.
     
  4. The devil child

    The devil child 28DL Regular User
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    It was definitely not in a place you would 1st expect I can see why it was never popular with locals :D
     
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