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Yesterday I was looking for information on the extension of the Rome Subway (Metropolitana) as it is called. Since 1955 Rome has a subway system composed of two lines forming a X pattern which cross the city, Line A (27 stations) and Line B (25 Stations).

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Metro Station sign in Rome

The rest of the public transit system is made up of electric buses and electric  Trams on rail which can be found everywhere in the city. Since 2007 Line C has been in construction on the West-East Axis and since November 2014 one third of the new Line is finally open. The other two thirds will be open slowly, 2 more stations in July 2015 and then one more Station at St-John Lateran will open in June 2016 finally connecting  Line C with Line A making it truly a subway line connected to the system and finally in 2023 the rest is scheduled to open East of the Vatican Hill.

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Portion of Line C of the Rome Metropolitana still under construction.

The reason for all the delays has been all the archeological artefacts in the sub-soil of Rome. The biggest challenge is between St-Peter’s Square and Colosseo, this section crosses what was ancient Rome where all the important buildings of Imperial Rome are located at a depth of about 30 to 40 feet below the street level of today. The tunnel passes at about 60 feet below that level but the concern is what happens when you dig a large tunnel for subway cars to race through daily and what is it disturbing in the process. One Station has already been scratched from the plan, that of Largo Argentina between Piazza Venezia and Chiesa Nuova. Largo Argentina is the site of many temples you can admire today but also of the Theatre of Pompey where Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March 44BC and numerous other ancient monuments. It is easier to bypass the whole area than to try to put in a Metro Station and tunnel. At any rate I cannot see that it will make a big difference since the distance between Piazza Venezia and Largo Argentina or Chiesa Nuova is about 2 Km. easily walkable on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.

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The cost has also mushroomed in the last 10 years by about 2 Billion Euros but the Metro will be built, it is a question of honour for the Romans and damn the expense. That is what I like about Rome, it’s the Party must go on Spirit.

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Map of the Metro of Rome currently, Blue Line B and B1 and Yellow Line A in green Line C. Line D is under design phase and does not appear on this map.

Line C has 12 operating Station from Montecompatri-Pantano to Parco di Centocelle with trains that are driven by a computer system. Until it reaches the connection point with San Giovanni on Line A it will be underused. This summer another 6 Stations will open to Lodi Station.  Though I can see this line as being useful if you live in the Western end of the City and are coming to the Centro but still at this point and until 2016 you would have to transfer to a bus for the remainder of your ride. Lodi is one station short of San Giovanni or the transfer connection to Line A.

Just the Station going through Piazza Venezia required 3 years of archeological digs, the great green area in front of the Altar to the Nation uncovered the long lost Atheneum of Emperor Hadrian and next to it the Greek Library of Emperor Trajan, the remains are significant and important given that in Antiquity these two buildings were well known. Once the documentation work was done they were recovered with clean fill and the subway work can continue around them.

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All this research came about because I read Italian papers each day and noted two stories, one about 2016 being a Holy Year, Pope Francis just announced it, and the Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino saying ”Roma e Pronta” Rome is ready, really?!? If you are planning to go to Rome in 2016 better reserve your hotel rooms now. Millions of pilgrims are expected and the whole area around St-Peter will be a mob scene. Luckily it is on the other side of the Tiber River so out of the centro.

The other piece of news was that Rome wants to host the Olympic Games in 2024 so it is important to finish this subway system upgrade as soon as possible. The last time the Olympics were in Rome was 1960. images-1

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