• Infrastructure
  • Structure
  • Tunneling
  • Geotechnics
  • Environment
  • Hydraulics
  • Mobility
  • Architecture
  • Systems
  • Safety
  • BIM
  • Visual Design

SFMR: The Veneto regional metropolitan system

  • Infrastructure
  • Tunneling
  • Mobility
  • Architecture
  • Safety
  • BIM
  • Visual design

Mobility, integration and efficiency seen by system engineering.

The SFMR – Veneto Regional Metropolitan Railway System is an integrated transport organisation based on the railway extended to the regional area. The aim of the project is to satisfy the mobility requirements in the region at the same time reducing environmental pollution, congestion and the accident rate on the road network, and making travel more comfortable for people.

The main condition necessary to achieve this is the integration of the road-railway system in terms of public and private transport. As a result, it was essential to reorganise the philosophy of public transport so that road and rail were complementary and synergic instead of competing. The transport services that satisfy the demand for mobility and the existing infrastructure was assessed to check its compatibility with the new services, to indicate the need in terms of new works, were then designed with these principles. The new works are to strengthen and rationalise the whole of the current and future railway network and the interchange points, updating accessibility to railway stations (roads, cycle paths, car parks and bike racks). Lastly, a checking simulation of the structure of the strengthened infrastructure was made with respect to the indicated future services, assessing all the effects/impacts – social, economic, technical, financial, environmental and managerial. After these checks, the design stage of the works was started.



The work performed

The works making up the SFMR project include the construction of new sections of railway line and the relative signalling and traction systems, the elimination of level crossings in the whole region replacing them with flyovers or road underpasses and pedestrian subways, the renovation of existing railway stations and the construction of new ones, with car parks, cycle-pedestrian subways and other dedicated facilities.

In addition to the assessment stage described above, NET Engineering developed the whole design – from the preliminary level to the final one – and the Works Supervision of civil and installation works.

The construction of subways, after the elimination of level crossings and the renovation of the stations, was one of the most frequent components of the SFMR project.

Therefore, NET Engineering gained notable experience in design and the direction of works of this type, also in highly urbanised contexts and with significant hydraulic and geotechnical problems. The choice of this construction method for the works was directed by the need to guarantee the continuity of railway operation. The technique sets out creation off-site and subsequently installation via hydraulic thrust. This construction method, combined with solutions such as Essen Bridges, GUIDO Bridges, twin girders, and rail bundles to support the railways tracks, means that rail traffic can be guaranteed at a speed compatible with service and safety requirements (80 kph) even during any phase of the works underneath or alongside the tracks.


The important works already completed include: the Mestre Ospedale railway station, which was opened in 2018, the railway overpass line in a westerly direction from Mestre station about 6 km long, with a viaduct of 1 km with 41 decks, and the elimination of the level crossing at Maerne (VE) station and the construction of three roundabouts, one on a deck. These works are part of the general scenario of:

  • 1100 km of existing railway network checked and made efficient;
  • 180 km of new railway lines;
  • 407 level crossings to be eliminated;
  • 162 railway stations and stops to renovate;
  • 37 new stops and railway stations;
  • 120 new trains to assign to the SFMR service.
The role of system engineering

A methodological, ‘system’ approach was used for the development of the SFMR project meaning a logical process originating in the indication of the mobility needs of people and goods generated by the region, and the current status and future scenarios. It was developed with the definition of the ‘integrated transport services plan’ able to satisfy mobility needs, and ends with the indication of all the infrastructure necessary for the implementation of the plan.

The main points of the method:

  • analysis and assessment of the current situation;
  • forecast of the evolution of the infrastructure network;
  • forecast of the evolution of demand;
  • indication of various possible suggestions for action;
  • check on the impact of those suggestions on the context, traffic and environment;
  • indication of optimal design solution;
  • economic assessment of the work.

A profound change with respect to the traditional approach that favoured the strengthening of the infrastructure, sometimes without having an adequate idea of what aims to achieve and which operating model was the most suitable to pursue them.

Compared to the years when work for SFMR started (1998), the system approach in Italy to indicate works to construct has made significant steps forward and consolidated the value of its utility. The results obtained are, however, are probably less than expected. Results arrive in a longer time span than many citizens generally consider acceptable for their consent and approval. As a result, perseverance is required in raising awareness of it and spreading knowledge of its undoubted advantages. This is something that NET Engineering has carried out in a pioneering way from its first applications.



It’s useful to consider that the large geographic extension of the SFMR and the resulting importance of the economic commitment have induced Veneto Region to plan the implementation in stages, correlated with the available financing. At present, therefore, there are completed works, others at construction or tender stage, and yet others where projects with different stages of investigation (preliminary, definitive or executive) have been developed; lastly, there are others that are still being assessed by system engineering.

Technological innovations

The advantage of being an essential part of a project under development for almost 20 years is the opportunity, which Net Engineering immediately seized, to adapt one’s engineering approach to the main technological innovations in the market over time. This firstly concern the reconstruction methods of the orographic/urban planning context where the various project works are placed. The paper and two-dimensional digital drawings, arising from traditional topography, were slowly but surely replaced by point clouds generated by land-based laser stations or drones. The field work of the technicians was integrated with the chance to exploit vehicles and/or trains as a support for the installation of laser/video integrated instrumentation, thus obtaining an instant, dynamic photograph of the infrastructure undergoing modernisation.

The desire to increase the quality of the services offered was mainly aimed at reducing problems in construction sites as much as possible and drove Net Engineering to implement BIM methodology in its processes, thus creating digital computer models useful not only at the design stage but also in the subsequent management and operational stages of the infrastructure.

El Ferdan Bridge