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Currently there are about 1,700 stations of the Italian railway network that the Italian FS group is granting on a gratuitous loan to the associations and municipalities to initiate social projects that have positive a impact on the territory and to improve the quality of the services offered at the same stations.
About 345 of these stations, corresponding to an area of more than 63,683 m² have already been assigned in loan of free use or facilitated lease to associations and local authorities; The restoration and maintenance of the buildings are at the total expense of the beneficiaries.
For the community, this conversion of use has mutual advantages: if, on the one hand, the FS group no longer has maintenance charges for the property and the surrounding green areas, the co-owner has a free seat for his own productive activities.
There can be different uses for the re-qualification of the unattended stations: from voluntary associations to music band rehearsal facility, from relief associations to civil protection or environmental guards associations, cultural center or dance workshops.
An important and recent example of the project of Requalification of the heritage has been the transformation of a wing of the station in Ronciglione into host house for families with children suffering from oncological diseases. The station was given on a gratuitous loan for six years, now it is completely transformed and managed by the association Cuore di Mamma (A Mum’s Heart).
Moreover, thanks to the presence of the operators of the associations, the building is more protected from vandalism, and the perception of security both of the customers and of the citizens has improved dramatically.
FS also owns 3.000 km of disused railway lines, 325 of which have been converted to “greenways”: bicycle lanes and trekking tracks available to everybody. The Group FS intends to establish a National Greenway Path, following the lead of other European countries, and with the help of institutional agencies such as the Ministry of Environment, local authorities and the major environmentalist associations.
Gratuitous loans: Who can make a request?
The requests for free use of RFI property spaces no longer functional to railway operation (Spaces inside the stations – predominantly in unattended ones, outdoor or indoor areas within the passenger building or along the railway lines) can only be advanced by Local Authorities (provinces, municipalities, etc.) and by associations operating in the social sector and, more generally, by Non-profit organizations.
The RFI spaces no longer functional to the railway operation are in fact made available on loan for free use only for the implementation of projects aimed at providing the territory with non-profit social utility services. Usually, the loan agreement lasts 4 years and the requires the commitment by the borrower agency to carry out requalification and/or maintenance interventions in the building (extraordinary and/or ordinary, cleaning, safety, etc.)
How to apply
The request for loan will have to be presented together with the detailed description of the project that is to be made, and it must contain:
1. Brief presentation of the requesting agency
2. Description of the project and its social purposes
3. Description of any partners involved in the project (institutions, local authorities, enterprises, foundations, etc.)
4. Benefits/Consequences of the project on the territory in social, environmental, employment, cultural, etc.
5. Location of the space for which the request is made (station or other areas)
6. Analysis of the overall costs of the project with evaluation of the interventions necessary to make the required space suitable for the initiative
7. Financial resources planned and dedicated to the implementation of the project for the duration of the loan agreement
8. Timing of the project
To whom to submit
First and foremost non-profit organizations can submit their project to the municipalities where the RFI space lies or to the national associations with which the Italian FS Group has established collaboration protocols for the development of comodata for social use: Legambiente, Associazione Italiana Turismo Responsabile, CSVnet, Lega Coop Sociali.
Alternatively, the project may be submitted by regular mail to the RFI Territorial Agencies competent for the station/area of interest
How the requests are evaluated
The project will be assessed by the company in agreement with the parent company Ferrovie dello Stato (Italian Railways), which is responsible for relations with the associations and social policies of the group. The evaluation will consider the quality of the partnership and the financial plan of particular relevance in support of the initiatives