Neglected Kanfanar – Rovinj Railway to be Given New Life as Hiking and Cycling Trail

Daniela Rogulj

February 20, 2020 – This conceptual design transforms the Kanafar – Rovinj railway into bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure of great potential, which should connect the coast and the interior and, among other things, offer innovative and modern tourist facilities, relieve road traffic from cyclists, preserve the route and add accompanying technical and construction facilities as valuable industrial heritage. 

Glas Istre reports that the conceptual design for the reconstruction and redevelopment of the old and abandoned Kanfanar – Rovinj railway line, which is 22 kilometers long, aroused great interest from those who had the opportunity to learn about the new project first-hand on Tuesday.

The authors of the preliminary design, landscape architect Marko Sošić, the head of the Studio “Kappo” and Dr. Ivana Venier, provided explanations and answers to the questions of those present.

According to Ivana Venier, the basic goal of the preliminary design was to remodel the former railway line into a bicycle and pedestrian path.

“It is an abandoned and neglected railway infrastructure of exceptional potential, which this conceptual solution is looking to transform into cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, also of exceptional potential, which should connect the coast and the continent, ie, Kanfanar and Rovinj. It will offer innovative and modern tourist facilities, unburden the road traffic from cyclists, preserve the route and add accompanying technical and construction facilities as a valuable heritage of industrial heritage, and encourage the broad development of the local community,” Venier said, and added that the solution presented covers the entire route from station to station in order to ensure continuity and preserve the historical memory of the area.

In addition, Venier added, rebuilding the railroad is one way of revitalizing an area that is of utmost importance to the locals.

“The main goal is to turn the abandoned and neglected track into an attractive space on a bicycle path that will affect the development of a wider area. Revitalizing the route and turning it into a bike path will give it various purposes: sports, recreational, cultural and traffic. In addition, the bike path will connect villages and settlements, and will be useful for promoting intermodality as a healthy and sustainable way of movement, preserving natural, cultural and industrial heritage as well as developing complementary activities such as cycling,” she explained.

Marko Sošić explained more about the conceptual design and explained that at the very beginning of the project, the biggest challenge was to identify and analyze the existing condition of the route, which again consists of different situations on the ground – large stone embankments, ravines, and bridges to parts where the majority of the railroad no longer exists. For this reason, the solution worked according to typical situations that included three main typologies: paths in the field, on the embankment and in the ravines,” said Sošić, who added that due to length, and because of the finances, the renovation and conversion of railways must be phased in order of importance.

“The first objective includes breaking up cycling tourism, followed by the local development of complementary activities, the preservation of natural, cultural and industrial heritage, and finally the development of intermodality and the promotion of sustainable mobility,” Sošić said.

Talking about the construction action plan, which will also go gradually and in stages, they would begin by cleaning the railway, which, as we learned from the Kanfanar Mayor Sandra Jurman, has already started. Then, they would construct a macadam road, pave the asphalt, create the lookouts and erect wooden sculptures.

Speaking about the attractions that could be found on the newly refurbished railway line, whose construction, in addition to the money from the budget of Kanfanar and Rovinj, will require EU funds, Sosic said they would construct a bridge over Ipsilon, erect a historic train as a sculpture, renovate three existing bridges, construct a resting place in Rovinj and Kanfanar with a bicycle stand and an electric charging station for them. In addition, the new path will provide space for new lookouts, parking lots, newly planned bridges, and horizontal signage as an opportunity to place installations and sculptures.

According to Jurman, it is a large and financially demanding investment that will ultimately connect Kanfanar and Rovinj even more significantly, enriching the lives of both the local population and the increasing number of cyclotourists and tourists in general.

“At this point, it is very difficult to talk about specific dates of project implementation. What follows is the creation of a survey that will be followed by the main project. In addition to money from the municipal and city budgets, we will also apply for funds from the EU Fund and the development of tourism infrastructure. In any case, I hope that by next season this route will be able to be used by pedestrians,” Jurman said.

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