Engines and bogies were renovated but the body, ugly and modest when the project born, in the 70s was absolutely outdated and Fiat prepared a good lifting.
New front ends, more squared, and a new layout with two vestibules were designed, the interiors were slightly improved and a supercharged version of the 8217 engine, the 8217.32.032 developing 147 kW was fitted. So the new railcars had more than 290 kW available, 80 more than the 1400s, and can run at 130 km/h on the main lines; and in the 80s, after testing, these engines will be calibrated at 170 kW each one!
In 1975 were built the ALn 668.1901-1942 and in 1976 the ALn 668.1001-1120; the two series are almost identical, the only differences being the presence of the post shelving in the 1900s and two diverse brake taps.
From the beginning these two series became nearly ubiquitous, being assigned to Cuneo, Lecco, Cremona, Rimini, Foggia, Taranto, Catanzaro, Reggio Calabria and Palermo depots, and make still today every kind of service, from the stopping Como-Lecco to the InterCity Taranto-Reggio Calabria (and this line is now so neglected that a single railcar is enough...
From the 80s some Ln 664s were modified to be used with these units: in Romagna in driving mode and on the Monza-Molteno-Lecco line sandwiched between two motors. On this line, that saw a good increase of passengers in the last 20 years, until few times ago some peak time trains were made by complexes M+T+M+M+T+M conducted by two drivers.
In mountaneous regions small snowploughs were installed on the front ends. Instead, in Tuscany, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia, railcars were equipped with cow-catchers to avoid damage in case of accidents with livestock.
Another singularity were six 1000s of Cuneo depot that in 1980 were equipped with the French safety devices for the service on the Cuneo-Nice international line. After some years these equipments have been displaced to newer 668s.
Also the ALn 668s were modified i in the front ends to allow use of plain glasses.
The two classes are still in daily use but the reduction of local services (and the closure of many lines) joint with the new regulations about disabled people access condemned them: no more overhauls and when the mileage is achieved the railcars are dumped.
Three units entered in the FS historic stock and were repainted in the original livery
ALn 668.1029 and 1079 were caught at the beginning of 1997 leaving Sesto San Giovanni with a Lecco-Milan via Molteno service. The railcars still have the curvy and nice windscreens.
On the Taranto-Sibari line that was being wired, ALn 668.1971 in the original livery and a sister in the new one run along the Ionio sea on the side of an old defense tower.
Altough I don`t like the ALn 668s, in my personal opinion the 1900/1000 are the nicest series.
the two images by S. Paolini courtesy of Photorail
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