Central Station >> Milano >> The interurban tramways

The interurban tramways

ATM_85_177_CacinaAmata_280500.jpg (81746 byte)

A special Milano – Limbiate train with Reggio Emilia 85 and Costamasnaga trailer 177 is waiting for an incoming Bloccato at Cascina Amata passing loop on May 28th 2000. Photo © Alessio Pedretti.


The network today

The system at a glance
Company Azienda Trasporti Municipali (ATM)
System Two separated tramway lines
Service Interurban
Gauge 1445 mm
Ordinary routes 2
Lenght 24.7 km
Voltage 600 V
Depots Deposito Desio
Deposito Varedo
Opening of the first horse line July 8th 1876, Milano – Monza
Opening of the first steam line June 6th or 8th 1878, Milano – Vaprio
Opening of the first electric line September 7th 1900, Milano – Affori
Maximum extension 1920s
Last significant abandonment April 1999: Milano via Valtellina – Milano Affori, Milano via Valtellina – Milano Niguarda, Cusano – Milanino.
Last significant extension 1920: Limbiate – Limbiate Ospedale
Cars in regular service 92 (2001)

These two separated lines are the remnants of a very large network of steam and electric interurban tramways that once spread over Lombardy including a lots of different systems: at a same point it was possible to travel by tram from Ostiglia, a small town on the banks of river Po about halfway between Verona and Bologna, to Riva San Vitale on the shores of Lago di Lugano in Switzerland, 190 km in a bee-line!

Respingente Cso Sempione ex Tranvia Stie Gallarate.JPG (174708 byte)

A remnant of the interurban Milano – Gallarate (STIE): a buffer in corso Sempione. Photo © Alessio Pedretti.

Termine Raddoppio Via Imbonati 09-11-02.JPG (165443 byte)

An abandoned passing loop in via Imbonati (Milano – Limbiate line) on November 9th 2002. The overhead was removed: now poles are used to support the electric feeder that joins the urban and the interurban systems. Photo © Alessio Pedretti.

Until 1999 both lines were linked with the urban tramway system, but since April 12th 1999 the urban sections from via Valtellina terminal to Affori (via Vincenzo da Seregno, Limbiate line) and to Niguarda (via Ornato, Desio line) were closed; the cut of the Limbiate urban leg was caused by metro M3 works in piazza Maciachini, while the Desio leg had to be upgraded to light rail standard in order to transform it into the new Metrotramvia Nord. Six days later the tramway service on Cusano – Milanino branch of the Desio was discontinued but today (November 2003) its tracks and overhead are still in place. The terminal in via Valtellina was abandoned and a year later the points leading to it were removed. On September 11th 2000 the Desio was limited further on to Niguarda Dazio.

ATM_538_DesioDeposito_071001.jpg (80404 byte)

Train 537 + 504 + 538 is leaving Desio Deposito terminal heading to Milano on October 7th 2001.

In November 2003 the Desio interurban was physically linked with the under construction Metrotramvia Nord and consequentially with the urban network. On 22th the overhead wasn't placed on the junction yet, but now probably this has already done, allowing interurbans cars to come back to Officine Generali Teodosio.

Click on the name of the line to go to its page.
Milano interurban tramways on September 11th 2000
Code Name Route Notes
178 Desio (Milano Parco Nord since December 8th 2003) – Milano Niguarda Dazio – Bresso – Cusano – Paderno Dugnano – Nova Milanese – Desio – Desio Deposito
179 Limbiate Milano Affori – Cormano – Cascina Amata – Varedo – Limbiate – Limbiate Ospedale (Mombello)
Route numbers appear only on maps. Trams show the destination and a coloured table indicates the line: white with a red cross for Milano – Limbiate; vertical red and yellow strips for Milano – Desio.

These tramways are single-track lines, running mostly on a side of streets but in private right of way. There are two depots: Desio for homonymous route and Varedo for Milano – Limbiate. Until 1999, interurban trams were hosted in the Deposito Messina, too. As the two lines are separated from the urban network, cars that eventually need to go to the workshop must be carried by road trailers.

The future

After having risked the total closure in 1999, the future of this system is now positive, as there is a project to transform Desio route in a double track light rail to Paderno Dugnano and to built a new single track section from Desio to Seregno. On December 8th the Desio is being extended some hundred of metres into Milano to the new terminal Parco Nord, norther terminus of Metrotramvia Nord served by routes 4 and 5. About Milano – Limbiate, the urban section piazza Maciachini – Affori is now definitively abandoned, but there is a project to connect it to Milano – Desio and Metrotramvia Nord in Niguarda near the Ospedale Maggiore. The Milanino is destined to become a branch of Metrotramvia Nord.

Rolling stock

Click on the type to go to its page.

Milano interurban trams on October 2003
  Type Classification Axles Present (original) amount Year Mechanic Electric equipment Notes
Motor cars Desio 44-49 4 5 (6) 1926 Carminati e Toselli CGE 1
Reggio Emilia 85-92 4 5 (8) 1928 Reggiane TIBB 2
OM 93-96 4 3 (4) 1930 OM TIBB 3, set aside
Costamasnaga 101-105 4 1 (5) 1927-28 Costamasnaga TIBB 4, set aside
Breda 110-115 4 1 (6) 1935 Breda TIBB 5, set aside
OEFT 116-123 4 1 (8) 1937 Tallero TIBB 6, set aside
OMS 124-128 4 2 (5) 1942 Stanga CGE 7, set aside
EMUs Bloccato 500 Motor cars: 501-512 4 12 1961-64 Tallero TIBB 8
Trailers: 531-554 4 24 1961-64 Stanga 9
Bloccato 800 Motor cars: 801-810 4 4 (10) 1964 Stanga TIBB 10
Trailers: 831-850 4 8 (20) 1964 Stanga, Tallero 11
Trailers Carovana 140-179 4 6 (40) 1918-21 Costamasnaga 12
Costamasnaga 180-197, 240-269 4 9 (38) 1924-28 Costamasnaga 13
"Porte al centro" 180-197, 212-226, 240-279 4 9 (55) 1963-65 Various 14
OEFT 307-310 4 2 (4) 1935 Breda 15, set aside
Services cars series 3100 2 and 4 ? Various Various 16


  1. Car 44 is in the Officine Generali Teodosio and is used as a shunter. Car 45 is set aside. Car 49 was demolished on December 11th 2000.
  2. Cars 86, 88, 91 were demolished. Car 87 is set aside.
  3. Cars 93, 94, 95 are set aside in Deposito Desio, car 96 is preserved in Issaquah (Washington, USA).
  4. Only car 101 survives in Deposito Desio in a very bad situation.
  5. Only car 114 survives in Deposito Desio.
  6. Only car 122 survives in Deposito Desio.
  7. Only cars 124 and 128 survive in Deposito Desio.
  8. Former motor cars type OEFT 501-512 (Tallero, 1953).
  9. Former trailers series 347-376 (Stanga, 1950-51).
  10. Former motor cars type OMS series 130-139 (Stanga, 1941). Only cars 801, 802, 804, 806 survive.
  11. Former trailers series 321-334 (Tallero, 1940) and former trailers series 335-358 (Stanga 1945-50). Only cars 831-834, 839-842 survive.
  12. All the cars are set aside but 161, 177 and 179.
  13. 21 cars were transformed in "Porte al centro" in 1963-65. All these cars are set aside but 181.
  14. Cars created with the transformation of Costamasnaga, Carminati and OEFT (series 270-279) trailers. All these cars are set aside in Deposito Desio.
  15. Only cars 308 and 309 survive in Deposito Desio.
  16. These service cars are in common with the urban network. In Deposito Desio there are three two-axle flat cars numbered 3111, 3114 (ex Edison urban motor car), 3131.

A number of old Milano interurban cars are preserved in various locations:

Probably there are other interurban preserved cars. If you have some other entry, you can email me.


© 2003 Ivan Furlanis
Last changes: December 2003