Our History

Ferrovie dello Stato was established in 1905, an important step in the process of unifying Italy. In more than a century of serving citizens, our Group has contributed to Italy’s economic, social and cultural development. A historical path reconstructs the most significant moments that have led Ferrovie dello Stato to be the large company it is today.

Originally it was the Bayard

In the morning of 3 October 1839 the small Bayard locomotive ran seven kilometres and 250 metres on the Naples - Portici line: a huge project created with the contribution of the English to take the court of Ferdinand II to the residences out of the city. This success meant that the second line Milan - Monza was inaugurated only a year later and new sections were built and opened everywhere in Italy.

However the management companies could not guarantee sustainable travelling conditions: compartments that were cold in winter and hot in summer made travelling feel endless and delays were so bad that in 1889, a parliamentary enquiry commission was established to examine the causes. 

The discontent of citizens was compounded by the protests of railway operators who, after a series of wage demands, threatened to call a strike. 

The reaction of the liberals to the serious conditions of disservice and anarchy in the workplace led to a bill being presented on 21 April 1905 to nationalise the railway network, with an annex forbidding public employees to strike. The reaction of the railway operators was so fierce that the Giolitti government resigned.

However the plan was set: on 1 July the head of the Fortis government proclaimed the establishment of Ferrovie dello Stato, entrusting its management to a State company under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Works.

From private to public: FS is founded

A new symbol, FS, appears on all the trains. The new company grew exponentially: in just a few years the number of locomotives rose from 2,500 to 5,000, vehicles from 60,000 to 117,000; 2,000 kilometres of new lines were inaugurated, trains got faster and faster while distances shortened.

However this means of transport was not immediately popular: Italians still trusted transportation of goods by sea or horse. Only under the fascist regime did the train become a true Italian legend: a flagship of the dictatorship, a symbol of progress and futurism, a sign of order and the correct operation of the state machine.

Trains changed their function once again in the Second World War: as a way to take troops to the frontline, they became a symbol of fighting and hope.

Trains: a means which transports dreams

In the nineteen fifties, with emigrants from the south of Italy searching for work in Milan and Turin in the north, trains took on a fundamental role in the country’s economic and social development. 

Like the ships of the 19th century which sailed from Italian ports full of emigrants to reach the USA, now trains took them to new destinations to leave misery and poverty behind. 

The same railway operators acquired respect and honour: together with the postal service and teachers, they belong to the aristocracy of workers.

“All change”

In 1985 this slogan announced a radical transformation for the railway companies: from an independent company to a public body and, finally a public limited company.

Thanks to the change in the economic and political conditions of the last twenty years, a real revolution has taken place in the Railway organisational structure: the company’s objective is not only to satisfy the needs of those citizens who want to travel safely and on time, but also to implement EU directives.

Subsequently, in 2000, in compliance with these EU Directives on the liberalisation of railway transport, a new extensive changed occurred which led to the foundation of Trenitalia and, the following year, the establishment of RFI and Ferrovie dello Stato (becoming Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in May 2011), the Parent company, thus completing the reorganisation process.

In 2000 Trenitalia was founded and in 2001 RFI and Ferrovie dello Stato were established, (becoming Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in May), the parent company, thus completing the reorganisation process.

The future runs on rails

About 9,000 trains a day totalling 500 million passengers and 80 million tons of freight transported a year on a network measuring more than 16,000 kilometres. The future of railways starts from these figures.  A future which is set on the huge international routes: from Lisbon to Kiev, from Berlin to Sicily and from Genoa to Rotterdam. Italian rails and trains now run across Europe.

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