The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed its largest-ever loan to fund a new high-speed rail link between Naples and Bari in southern Italy.
The organisation will invest approximately €2 billion into the project, part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) programme, which was established by the European Commission to support important transport infrastructure projects.
In total, the rail connection – a significant upgrade on the current line – is set to cost more than €6.3 billion.
The scope of work across the project includes a 2.6km tunnel, the construction of three new stations, some 4km of viaducts, an overhead power supply system and an extension to the command and control system, as well as numerous steel bridges where the line crosses highways.
The project is already underway, with developers Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stado Italiane) and Italferr (construction supervision), having commissioned Salini Impregilo and Astaldi to undertake construction work on the 15.5km section of line between Naples and Cancello.
At the peak of construction activity, the project is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs and aims to promote a shift from air and road transportation to rail in two of Italy’s less-developed regions (Campania and Puglia).
Having been identified as a priority project by both the EU and the Italian government, the new line is expected to boost connections between some of Europe’s most important regions. The combined passenger and freight movement by rail will also offer environmental benefits through a significant reduction in noise and pollution.