The title of “shortest national railway line” goes to the Vatican Railway. It’s a little line that links Italy and Vatican and its origin date back to the XX century. It is still working today and it’s very characteristic: let’s find out more together.
The shortest national railway line of the world
# The shortest railway: one kilometer long but with only 200 meters in the national territory
The Vatican railway is 1270 meters long but of these just 200 meters are in the Vatican territory. The line links the San Pietro station of Rome, located in Italian territory near the Vatican walls, and the Vatican station.
The passage between the Italian State and the Vatican does not remain always open: the tunnel in the Vatican walls is protected by a sliding iron gate that, when necessary, is opened or closed to let convoys pass.
# One of the two tracks became the “passeggiata del Gelsomino”
Initially the railway had two tracks, but in 2000 during some modernization work, in occasion of Jubilee, one of the of them was removed. In its place was built a beautiful pedestrian street, called “passeggiata del Gelsomino”.
# The origins: a pact between Vatican and the Reign of Italy
The construction of the railway line was ordered by the Lateran Pacts, signed bilaterally by the Reign of Italy and the Vatican on February 11, 1929. The works lasted three years and were financed entirely by the Italian Kingdom. The first test trips were made in 1932, but the official inauguration of the line was only in 1934.
After the construction, Italy and the Vatican agreed on the management of the line. The part that ran within the walls of Vatican City would be managed by the Holy See, while the remaining track, on Italian territory, would be managed by Italian National Railways.
# Who are the passengers of the Vatican railway?
Originally, the railway was mainly used to transport goods, provisions and essential goods, but with the progress of road transport it was progressively used less.
Occasionally, in the course of time, the line has also carried out passenger service. For example, in 1959 a special convoy transported many believers on the occasion of the transfer of Pius X’s body. The Vatican Railway was used for the first time by a Pope in 1962, when John XXIII made a pilgrimage to Loreto and Assisi using the train.
Since 2015 the Railway has been operating as a fixed passenger transport, every Saturday morning, transporting tourists to the papal villas of Castel Gandolfo.