Station Name: SAN REMO (Italy)

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 25 January 1872
Location: South side of Piazza Cesare Battisti
Company on opening: SFAI (Società per le strade ferrate dell'Alta Italia)
Date closed to passengers: 24 September 2001
Date closed completely: 24 September 2001
Company on closing: FS (Ferrovie dello Stato)
Present state: Main station building has been preserved in good condition
Date of visit: April 1965

Notes: San Remo station opened on 25 January 1872, with the opening of the track between Savona and Ventimiglia on the Genoa - Ventimiglia line. There were five trains a day in each direction. Click here to see the first timetable. San Remo station had 3 passenger tracks, as well as 2 for freight trains. The original station building was of timber construction with a pitched roof. A water tank on top of a tower stood at the south end of the station. By 1889 the station building was replaced by a larger building a little to the north-east where the line straightens. The later station building was much longer with a two storey central section which included included the ticket office, two waiting rooms, a bar, tobacco shop and a news-stand. The building had a pitched tiled roof with a hipped roof over the central section. There was a goods shed and sidings to the north of the main station building; these appear to remain from the earlier station. Photographic evidence suggests the station had very low platforms until well into the 20th century. European platforms have always been lower than British platforms. For most of its life the station was called Sanremo which is the correct name for the city.

From 1913 to 1942 the square in front of the station had an interchange with the Ospedaletti-Sanremo-Taggia tramway. On 21 April 1942 the Italian Riviera trolleybus was inaugurated and was in service until being temporarily suspended in December 2019.

The station was renamed San Remo in the 1980s. The station closed 24 September 2001 due to the opening of the new double-track section of the Genoa-Ventimiglia railway line from San Lorenzo to Bordighera. It was replaced by a new underground station to the north of the original and next to City Hall.

The passenger building is preserved in good condition and the tobacco shop inside the building is still trading. A railway museum has been considered for the station building but at the time of writing the building is largely unused. Today the area hosts events and exhibitions in what were once the railway freight warehouses. At track level there is parking and a 30km cycleway though the station opened in 2008.

Events that affected Sanremo station

1874 - In December, coming from Nice, Tsarina Maria Aleksandrovna arrives at the railway station of Sanremo, where she is welcomed by Duke Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta, son of Vittorio Emanuele II and by the highest authorities.

1912 - In Sanremo, on the Federico Guglielmo seaside promenade, while a train was passing through on its way to , a chasm opened up and swallowed up twenty of the forty pupils who had gone on a trip to the Guardia.

1916 - On 18 December, in the Cape Verde region, an immense landslide, estimated at one million cubic metres, swept away the road, railway and houses. "The railroad has its rails twisted up far away from the places where they were laid".

1926 - The train carrying the body of Italy's Queen Margherita from Bordighera to Rome passes through Sanremo station in a carriage decorated in mourning.

1931 - The three-phase electrification up to Ventimiglia is completed.

1939 - Hermann Goering, Hitler's deputy, arrives at Sanremo station for a holiday

1946 - End of the war. 4 September. The power line between Savona and Ventimiglia is restored by laying 600 poles and 200.000 metres of copper cable.

1967 - 8 October. Replacement of three-phase current with direct current on the Savona-Ventimiglia line.

The idea of a railway along the Ligurian coast began in March 1857 with what was called the Railway of the Ligurian Riviera (Italian: Ferrovia delle Riviere Liguri) with the inauguration of a project for a railway from the Var river in Nice - then the border of the Kingdom of Sardinia and France - to the Magra river - which then marked the border Sardinia of and Duchy of Modena. This was part of the ambitious project for the building of a railway system, considered by Cavour as an important part of the process of Italian unification.

A railway was already in operation for a short distance west from Genoa, between the stations of Sampierdarena and Voltri, opened on 8 April 1856, which branched off the Turin - Genoa line. The rapid progress in the creating the Kingdom of Italy gave further impetus to the project leading to the proclamation of a law on 27 October 1860 establishing the Ligurian Railway (Italian: Ferrovia ligure) to run along the coast from Ventimiglia to Massa where it would join an existing railway line. Despite the need to build many tunnels and viaducts this work was carried out quickly and the 29 kilometre extension from Genoa to Savona Letimbro was opened on 25 May 1868. In 1865 the line had been absorbed by the newly established Società per le strade ferrate dell'Alta Italia (Upper Italian Railways). On 25 January 1872, the line was completed to Ventimiglia. The seven km connection from Ventimiglia to the relocated French border was opened two months later.

In the building of the line, its designers did not pay much attention to the needs of the territory through which it was built but instead mainly took into account military considerations and the political purposes of the new Kingdom of Italy. As most transport in the area, both passenger and freight was mainly carried by sea, the selected route ran virtually at sea level, closely following the coast and, where possible the Via Aurelia, linking more than 40 villages that had previously been difficult to reach by land. In 1885, the line was integrated into the new Società per le Strade Ferrate del Mediterraneo (Mediterranean System), which was taken over by the Ferrovie dello Stato in 1905.

With the establishment of the famous 'Orient Express' in 1883, the era of the Great Expresses began, which, crossing Europe, involved in some cases also 1872 Railway timetable the Ponente Ligure and in particular San Remo.

In 1899, the year in which the official timetable of the Strade Ferrate, Tramvie, Navigation and Postal Services of the Kingdom of Italy was drawn up for the first time and included two Grands Expresses in service in Italy which were in transit through Italy: The Petersburg-Warsaw-Vienna-Cannes train was a luxury train, consisting only of sleeping cars and a restaurant car. It ran weekly between St Petersburg and Vienna and daily between Vienna and Cannes. It made the following stops in Liguria: Genoa, Alassio, Sanremo, Ospedaletti and Bordighera. The Nord-South Brenner express ran daily between Berlin, Munich and Milan and twice weekly between Milan, Genoa and Cannes. In Italy it stopped in Liguria at Genoa, Alassio, Sanremo, Ospedaletti and Bordighera. Other international trains, no longer 'Express', would follow to pass through the Ponente.

Due to the difficulty of building the line and in order to minimise costs, the line was built almost entirely as a single track. This soon proved inadequate for its traffic. In the early twentieth century work began on designing improvements to the line, but duplication work proceeded very slowly, so much so that some sections between Imperia and Finale Ligure are still single track. Almost all doubling has involved the construction of new largely underground line, with the abandonment of the old line.

The first part of the doubling, between the station of Genova Voltri and Varazze, was opened in 1970. The new line was moved inland compared to the old route, removed to railway from the coastal towns of Arenzano, Cogoleto and Varazze. A new station was built in Arenzano.
The old railway line was partly re-used and partly abandoned. In particular in the area of Vesima, after years of abandonment, the route of the old line was used for the widening of the roadway of the Via Aurelia within the three towns. The suburban sections were originally abandoned but have been recovered in recent years to be used as pedestrian paths.

In 1977, the new section between Finale Ligure and Varazze was completed very late compared with the original program; it included the new station of Savona Mongrifone. The abandoned line was absorbed by the urban fabric, with much of it converted into a promenade.

After 25 years of planning, public discussion and construction the new double line between Imperia and Bordighera, opened in 2001, including new stations in Arma di Taggia and Sanremo, while San Lorenzo, Santo Stefano and Ospedaletti lost their stations.

On 2 April 2005 a deviation of the line between Voltri and Pegli was opened, including the building of a new station of Genova Prà.. A new section of double track has been built between San Lorenzo al Mare and Andora, diverting the line inland via a series of new tunnels and viaducts. It replaced the old coastal route and includes new stations at Andora, Diano and Imperia that replaced older stations, including two former stations in Imperia. This new section was scheduled for completion at the end of 2009, but was delayed. Work on the section of line through Imperia ground to a halt in 2011 and after the resolution of legal disputes between the main contractors, construction recommenced in February 2014.The new section was opened at the 2016 winter timetable change.

Click here to see video of a cab ride from San Remo to Genoa

Main sources of information:

San Remo Station Gallery 1: December 1874 - 3 May 1939

The earliest known illustration of Sanremo station dates from December 1874 less than three years after the station opened. Tsarina Maria Aleksandrovna arrives at Sanremo from Nice, where she is welcomed by Duke Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta, son of Vittorio Emanuele Il. The station building seen here is completely different than that seen in photographs taken around the turn of the 20th century so would be completely rebuilt within a few years. No platforms are seen here but that could be artistic licence. There appears to be a short canopy but this might be a temporary, provided for this occasion in the event of bad weather. A water tank and tower is seen on the far left. The station sign shows the original spelling, S.Remo or San Remo. It wasn't renamed San Remo until the 1980s. The building to the left of the station is not seen in any photographs. The locomotive has probably also been altered by the artist. It appears to have an open cab with spectacle plate. It does however resemble products supplied to Italy by Robertson Stephenson and Co. These were mostly 2-2-2 inside cylinder types but there were a small number of 2-4-0 outside cylinder types.

This c1880s view of the Sanremo station shows the original building with a water tank and tower at the south end of the building. Goods facilities are behind the photographer.

The north end of the original Sanremo station c1880s. It is assumed the staff are all railway staff most appear to be wearing a uniform. Freight traffic was handled at Sanremo and the yard was behind the fence. The goods shed is out of view to the right. The Grand Hotel De La Paix is seen in the background. From the middle of the 18th century the town grew rapidly, in part due to the development of tourism, which saw the first grand hotels built and the town extended along the coast.

Looking north west towards Sanremo c1880s. The original station is seen in the centre with the water tower at the north end. The goods warehouse is seen beyond the station.

This woodcut was published in the illustrated monthly supplement of Il Secolo, Milan in 1889. perhaps to mark the opening of the new Sanremo station. Clearly a different building to the 1874 engraving above.

Looking south-west towards Sanremo station in the early years of the 20th century. Compared with the 1890 photo above , the station has been rebuilt with a central two storey section The water tank and tower to the south of the station is still there. A canopy stretches the full length of the station building and across one track. Platforms are not obvious but may be extremely low. A goods shed is seen on the right to the south of the station. The locomotive in the foreground appears to be a 600 Class; these were small 2-6-0 tender loco and were introduced in 1904 so that'll be the earliest possible date for this photo. It looks like the area had become more built-up between this photo and the 1890s photo.
Photo by Stefano Esposito from his Flickr Photostream

A postcard view looking north-east at Sanremo station in the early 20th century. The station is seen centre right with a long canopy stretching the full length of the station building. A goods shed is seen beyond the station.

With San Remo station largely obscured by the train, what appears to be a goods train is seen heading in the direction of Ventimiglia and the French border. To the left of the train and just beyond the lower quadrant signal can be seen the points via which the track split into two of the three roads through the station. The points for the third track, on which the train is running, may be seen beneath the locomotive. Beyond the signal the water tower can be seen; the original station was much closer to the tank. The locomotive is 680 Class 2-6-2 four-cylinder compound No. 68109, built in 1910. She would in due course become No. 680.109. The class does not appear to have been particularly well regarded and many of the 151 strong class were eventually rebuilt, being given various class numbers along the way, to ultimately become the 685 Class. Of the few never rebuilt from original 680 Class form, all had been withdrawn by 1955. The railway through San Remo would be electrified on the AC three-phase overhead system (described briefly elsewhere) in 1931, thus we can only date this photograph to the 1910 - 1931 period and by looking at the clothing on show probably closer to the former.

In January 1926 the train carrying the body of Italy's Queen Margherita from Bordighera to Rome passes through Sanremo station in a carriage decorated in mourning. No evidence of any platforms at the station at this date.

An unidentified steam service has left Sanremo station and is running along the single track Italian Riviera coastal line towards Ventimiglia c1930s.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

This is one of several photographs claiming to show the high-ranking Nazi Hermann Göring, his wife Emma (usually referred to as 'Emmy') and entourage arriving at San Remo for a holiday on 5 March 1939. The holiday was to last until 6 May 1939 although Hermann was absent for about one week, being called away for matters of State. Careful study of this photograph reveals the Görings are not present. The luggage on the main platform and general casualness of the people suggests the Görings had already arrived and left the station, the train in view on the right is, therefore, probably a normal service train which will pick up the people on the island platform. The general casualness of the scene contrasts somewhat with the banners which indicate some formality around the Görings arrival. The banner of the Third Reich is instantly recognisable; it had a black Swastika in a white circle set in a red background. The other banners are of Mussolini's Fascist Italy and the layout was green at the pole end - shield device on white - red. The shield device itself was a white cross on a red background with a blue border. In both cases there were variations to banners/flags of both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. While this Disused Stations website is not the place to elaborate on Hermann Göring it is nevertheless felt a very brief background should be given in order to provide a fuller picture. Click here to read it
Photo from Douglas Dewer collection

This is another of the numerous photographs taken of Hermann Göring and his wife Emmy at the time of their arrival at San Remo for a holiday on 5 March 1939. Again, neither Hermann or Emmy were present when this photograph was taken but quite why is unclear because there was no restriction on photography as far as is known and indeed plenty of photographs were taken of the Görings strolling around San Remo with their entourage. Hermann is believed to have arrived at San Remo wearing civilian clothing which included a dark leather overcoat. It will be noticed that a trunk on the platform bears the initials 'EG' and it is not unreasonable to assume the trunk belonged to Emma (Emmy) Göring, Hermann's second wife. Initials and logos are visible, just, on other items of luggage but none can be identified. The Görings stayed at, and no doubt indulged themselves at, the Hotel Royal. This hotel was to be damaged during the war and was subsequently rebuilt and its name reversed to the 'Royal Hotel'. It is still in business as of 2023. How the Görings reached San Remo, in terms of train used and where it originated, is something of a mystery. Security, the entourage, the copious quantity of luggage and Hermann Göring's elevated status, be that actual or self-perceived, would have meant a private or chartered through train. Göring did have a private train, 'Sonderzug Asien'. Unfortunately photographs of the event at San Remo station come only with very basic 'Göring arrives at San Remo' information and it is therefore easy to jump to conclusions, meaning the train depicted is not necessarily that upon which the Görings arrived even though it may be assumed to be. The private trains of the Nazi hierarchy bore the eagle-surmounting-Swastika device with the letters 'D R' positioned one each side of the Swastika (D R = Deutsche Reichsbahn) but surviving film of 'Asien' suggests not every carriage bore the device although modellers drawings contradict this. The device seen on the side of the carriage, which appears to be a luggage-utility vehicle, is too unclear but it appears to be mounted below a ventilation grille. Possible it is the eagle and Swastika device, possibly not.
Photo from Douglas Dewer collection

Click here for San Remo Station Gallery 2:
April 1965 - December 2012




[Source: Nick Catford]

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