It was Luigi Serristori, governor of Siena, who suggested the idea of a train track between his home town and Empoli in the first half of the nineteenth century. The idea was to intersect the Livorno-Florence track which was being laid at the time.
In 1842 an article was written in the business paper the ‘Giornale del Commercio’ in which the engineer Giuseppe Pianigianidiscussed the technical elements of such a plan. The aim of these new train lines was to provide a means of transport to the farmers from the Siena and Val d’Elsa area so that they could move and sell their produce in many towns throughout the Granducato and other neighboring states.
Work began on the line in 1845 under the direction of Serristori and a group of citizens who had formed the Central Tuscany Rail company. The work was completed under the supervision the engineer Pianigiani in 1849.
Pietro Bastogi, who went on to form one of the most important rail companies in Italy, contributed greatly to the work. The Siena tunnel was finished in 1850 and the journey between Florence and Siena which passed through Castelfiorentino, Certaldo and Poggibonsi (destroyed during WWII) took only 3 hours and fifteen minutes. This was half the time the same journey took by stagecoach.
In the beginning, the train line was largely unused as most people preferred to rely on more traditional means of transport. Rail travel was considered too expensive and only good for long journeys. However, the towns and villages that the railway passed through slowly began to reap the benefits: the dirt tracks leading to these towns became main roads and factories and businesses sprung up nearby.
Even small villages began to see their economies take off and planned their urban growth around the train line. Siena was the first ‘Rail’ town in Tuscany as train carriages were built and repaired there. In fact, the rail factory there employed between 200 and 300 people and stayed in the city until it was moved in 1930.