Genova Subway “0 Series” (cars 01-06)

These particular articulated electric cars have been traveling on the Genoa metro since its opening in 1990.


Originally, the project for what would later become today’s subway included a simple “tram shuttle” connecting via Brin and Canepari to Principe Station, through the Certosa tunnel.

This tunnel was built between 1905 and 1908 for lines 9, 10 and 11 of the Genoese tram network, which connected the city center with Val Polcevara.
With the definitive closure of the traditional tram network in 1966, the Certosa tunnel was asphalted, equipped with a complex forced ventilation mechanism and converted to road use, only for buses in urban service, which began to travel on 1 October 1967.

Its new use was never easy: due to the narrowness of the tunnel, two-way traffic was not possible, which forced the buses to proceed one-way alternating in groups of two, three or even four vehicles with maximum frequencies of 10 minutes each direction.
Moreover, the intense traffic and the ineffectiveness of the ventilation made the air inside the tunnel practically unbreathable, saturated by exhaust gases; there were so many protests that in 1978 the municipality, dusting off some old ideas, presented a project for a “protected mini-tramway”, with a 3800m long route connecting Canepari and Principe, reusing for the most part the Certosa tunnel.

The choice of rolling stock for the new route fell on what at the time was one of the most modern tram vehicles in service, the Be 4/6 of the VBZ in Zurich, nicknamed “Tram 2000”: a twin tram with articulation on jackobs trolleys built starting from 1976 by SIG with mechanical components from Schindler and Schlieren and electrical components from ABB and BBC.

The municipality of Genoa planned to use an almost identical version produced under license by the WHO, of which a simulacrum was made.
Unfortunately, due to some pitfalls concerning the traffic light subjugation on the few short sections in the promiscuous place, the project was prematurely shelved.

In 1981, finally, people began to talk seriously about the subway: Genoa was in fact included in the list of cities in which the state recognized the construction of a subway as essential to overcome the problems of urban mobility.

Ansaldo Trasporti was commissioned to draw up a new project, which integrated the original 1978 one, but with numerous changes: in particular, it went from a “tramway in a protected location” to a light metro inspired by the successful wave of the stadtbahns then already widespread in federal Germany.
The planned route was moreover prolonged: from a Principe-Canepari shuttle it passed to a real line, connecting Rivarolo to Brignole via the Certosa tunnel and the ancient port.

As for the rolling stock, given that in the meantime the WHO had already acquired the production licenses for the “Tram2000”, the design of the new trains remained anchored to their Swiss predecessors: the general arrangement of doors and windows and the same general dimensions were maintained. (width and length), while among the few changes made, the walking surface was raised, passing from a medium-low floor of tramway derivation to a “platform height” floor and the front was made wider and more comfortable for the driver compared to the original Swiss front illuminated.

As for the technical components, the maximum speed of these electromotors was set at 70Km / h, with 750v DC power supply with catenary (captured through a single single-sided pantograph, placed on only one of the two boxes) and traction regulated by means of a GTO chopper.

Construction of the first cars began in 1985 and the first, number 01, was completed in February of the same year and was invited to Genoa after a few test runs on the Precotto depot of Line 1 of the Milan underground.

In Genoa, the 01 was still used for other test runs on the first section of the metropolitan building, from Brin to Dinegro. Initially the tests were essentially static, to verify the limit shape; shortly afterwards, by means of a “flying” connection with the overhead line, the first dynamic test runs also began, along the 1700m of track already laid. The remaining five first-order electromotors (02-06) were completed in the summer of 1985 and delivered shortly thereafter. Due to the relative slowness of the works and the early delivery of the electromotors, the latter remained unused, except for an occasional test or demonstration run.

Finally, on June 13, 1990, during the World Cup, the first section of the long-awaited Genoa metro was inaugurated, with the entry into service of the 2.6km long Brin-Dinegro section, and of the six 0 Series units as well.

To date, all six are still in service, practically without having undergone any changes or modifications, except for the replacement of the tramway-style 4-section doors with plug doors, which took place between 2011 and 2012.

Depsite having surpassed 30 years of age, there are still no plans for their replacement.


Curiosity # 1

Here is one of the very rare images of the original simulacrum, with a resemblance to the “Tram2000” even more marked than the final result.


Curiosity # 2

The first section of the subway was so incomplete when the first electromotors arrived in 1985 that the works for the construction of the stations had not even begun and the catenary for the test runs was erected in a jiffy.

Curiosity # 3

An additional 69 Series 0 units (for a total of 75) were originally expected to be supplied, which was then canceled in favor of more modern designs, such as the 1991 “10 Series”.