2022 COVID update – Tirania has removed the need for a pre departure PCR test and I understand that the need to wear a mask will also soon be dropped. The only remaining – and rather unusual requirement – is the need to take a lateral flow (ATK) test at Voltafiore station before being allowed to board train 271. A second test isn’t needed for the returning train 271, as your ticket is stamped with a confirmation of the earlier negative result. The test is self administered in the waiting room on platform 2, but you have to buy the kit at the station from the ticket counter – price currently 200 Dinari (£5). If anyone has been through this experience I would love to hear how it went, please comment below.
A lot of people haven’t heard of Tirania, but it’s triangular or ‘Toblerone’ train has reached cult status amongst rail travellers looking for an offbeat experience. Once cut off from the rest of the world, it’s usually possible to visit Tirania visa-free for up to 14 days, but of course, we live in difficult times and the borders are currently closed. Hopefully, they will reopen soon and this trip will once again become possible. The Toblerone train departs Voltafiore twice each day to the beach resort of Questa Verde (QV). QV is a great place to visit amongst the locals, who flock to the warm beaches of the Helkar Sea. Train 271 leaves at 9.30 am, getting you to the harbour in time for lunch. The returning 270 service leaves QV at 18.00, making it a doable day trip if you are short of time.
Onboard the train, the single class carriages are comfortable, if not very roomy when standing up. The rather bouncy seats face across at each other in an unusual diagonal configuration, with luggage stowed in a special carriage at the back of the train which is also reserved for bikes, surfboards and animals. There is no dining carriage, but it is possible to enjoy a cold bottle of the local Yebichu beer, served by the steward who wheels a little trolley down the train between stops. There is also a lively soundtrack played on speakers mounted at the end of each carriage. Passengers often enjoy a sing-along of local folk songs as the train weaves its way through the scenic mountains.
The history of the train is interesting. It was originally built for the Kinki Nippon Railway in 1977 and first used on the Hokusei line from Nishi-Kuwana to Ageki, near Nagoya in Japan. Tirania needed a train of this 2’6″ gauge but had a unique problem – the 2 km tunnel under the Yatil Mountain had minimal clearance for a train of this size. The coaches were therefore specially rebuilt with narrowed overhead bulkheads and configured to work on the Tirania railway and came into service on 1st April 1989.
You can buy tickets for the 3-hour 20-minute journey for 220 Dinari (about £8), one way at the ticket kiosk in Voltafiore central station. They are sold on the 1st April each year, but they are valid just for one day. I hope this post might have made you smile in tough times.
(Thanks to Wikipedia and Prochain Arret! for images. To the unknown owner of the Toblerone train image – please let me know and I will add a credit & link)