FS Class E491 and E492

Work in progress…

I’ve recently completed a little article on the ill-fated Austrian class 1822 electric locos – machines built for work into Italy which never materialised – and that brought to my mind a fleet of locos from the other side of the border that equally never saw the work for which they were conceived, albeit in a different way.  Indeed, the majority of them never saw any work at all, and they can only be considered as a colossal waste of money and potential.

The island of Sardegna (Sardinia) lies in the Mediterranean Sea and belongs to Italy; its railways, therefore, were developed by the Italian state in the same way as on the mainland.  However, whereas much of the mainland railway was electrified (at 3,000 V d.c.) in the Mussolini era, this did not extend to the modest railway network on the island.

The 1980s saw this addressed with the decision taken to electrify.  However, rather than at 3,000 V d.c. as on mainland Italy – as this was effectively a self-contained network – the decision was taken to electrify the Sardinian railways at 25 kV a.c., as ably demonstrated in numerous countries around the world including the UK.

The Locos

May 1983 saw the order placed for 25 new electric locomotives specifically for Sardegna – 19 mixed traffic machines of class E491 and 6 express passenger class E492s.  These were delivered from 1986 and were tested on the short section of the d railway between Civitavecchia and Aurelia, which had been – at great expense – electrified at 25 kV a.c. as a test track for this very purpose.

Further Use


Here is a link to a view of the location of the dumped locos (and a Fiat 500!) at Foligno, as of December 2014.


Fortunately, the fate of one of the locos – E491 011 – has been secured.  It has been safeguarded by “Gruppo E491” and will come under the care of Fondazione FS, being cosmetically restored in La Spezia.