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Report - The Malta Railway #1 Floriana Tunnel Dec 2010

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Bovine, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. Bovine

    Bovine 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Oct 18, 2008
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    A small island in the middle of the Mediterranean, it was conquered many times, because of its strategic importance, the last occuoiers being the British. The capital, Valletta and its environs, became heavily fortified over the centuries, so when a railway was proposed to link up the settlements across the island, this presented a problem. There was no way that the War Department would allow the defences to be compromised, so the railway was finally built in tunnel, with wooden (easily destroyed) viaducts crossing the defensive ditches.
    Built to the metre gauge, it opened in 1883 between Valletta and Mdina, being extended to Mtarfa when a British Army Barracks was built there. The total length was about 8 miles. In trouble from the start, the owning company lost money and the line was forfeited to the government, who ran it for 39 years. Profitable after the takeover, it began to lose ever more money, due to an electric tramway being set up on a parallel route. The importing of cheap motor buses in the 1920's was the last straw and it closed on March 31 1931. Ironically the tramway closed six months earlier, going bust!
    The tunnels have had various uses, from air raid shelters to mushroom growing, but the longest tunnel, which burrowed under Floriana at a depth of 90 feet, is disused. There was an underground station here, accessed by a stairwell, but some work was carried out towards an open air replacement, breaking into the tunnel.
    Please enjoy what could be the first pics of this forgotten bit of Maltese history.

    The line crossed this charming little viaduct at Porte de Bombes(the wooden one rotted!) before entering a short tunnel through the defenses and then the Floriana tunnel on its way to Valletta.

    The first part of the tunnel was a telephone exchange during the last war and was divided into rooms

    Some remains of the past

    Vintage power supply

    More junk! there was rubbish everywhere

    The site for the new station, the arch still has soot on it!

    Steps for the new station

    Floriana Station platform with edging stones, the tunnel was wider here

    Original platform entrance

    Roots from a blocked airshaft!

    Remains of a railway station barrow

    The tunnel continues towards Valletta, but is cut by an underground car park and blocked.
    It was so quiet that you could almost hear a train whistle blow!

    Attached Files:

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  2. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
    Staff Member Admin

    Oct 17, 2005
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    Old report I know, but great stuff ! Thanks !
  3. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Sep 1, 2014
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    Major construction work going on in Valletta at the moment and it was impossible for me to get in here. This tunnel has recently been opened to the public on a few open days. There's now talk of turning this tunnel into a tourist attraction and also talk of restoring the stations.

    In October 2012 The Times of Malta reported on the amazing discovery of two historic luggage carts in this tunnel. Umm I make that nearly 2 years after you discovered them.
  4. bhg

    bhg In Search of Lost Time
    Regular User

    Oct 23, 2012
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    Looks interesting! Thank you sharing!
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