Cinque Terre Express Train Is First Step to Alleviating Congestion
PHOTO: Cinque Terre, Italy (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Tourism in the Cinque Terre is growing at a fast pace and, in order to accommodate visitors, Italian officials are trying to devise a plan that will eliminate congestion at rail stations and on centuries-old footpaths that are feeling the wear and tear of exponentially increasing visitor traffic.
Cruise ships calling in the area are overwhelming the region with visitors that go to see the five charming villages that cling to the cliffs of the Italian coastline.
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Some of the major risks officials are dealing with are the 2.5 million visitors endangering the area’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the safety of the narrow paths that connect each city. In an effort to maintain and preserve its unique heritage, a reduction in visitors is a top goal for officials in the region and there have been calls to limit the number of visitors to the Cinque Terre on a daily basis. Another goal is a streamlined visitor rail service.
On Easter Weekend, the first phase of this new rail service got under way. The Cinque Terre Express launched as the visitor season officially began with the goal of separating tourists from daily commuters in the region and to eliminate some of the congestion on the railway and at railway stations. There are 44 trains scheduled per day, arriving every half hour that connect Levanto and La Spezia. Stops include each of the five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The new service is operated by Trenitalia Regionale with support from the region of Liguria. The train runs throughout the tourist season, until Nov. 1, and tickets are around $5.
The debut of the train was not undertaken without several hiccups, and Italian newspapers decried the service as there was confusion as to how the new system worked, stations were crammed with travelers and trains were late or did not arrive at all.
If the kinks can be ironed out, this can be one of the first steps to streamlining travel through the region and on the footpaths, preserving a sense of normalcy for residents during peak tourist seasons.
More by Janeen Christoff
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