Questions and answers
Because the existing railway line (the Fréjus tunnel built in 1871) does not meet current international safety standards.
Furthermore, the historic line is not competitive for freight transport and therefore does not encourage trade operators to prefer rail to road transport: excessive gradients and the sinuosity of the route limit the speed and capacity of trains.
With a competitive connection, most traffic could be moved from road to rail, with considerable economic benefits (thanks to the Mont Cenis base tunnel, freight costs would be reduced by 40%) and major benefits for the environment.
The Turin-Lyon project is part of the infrastructural networks promoted by the EU that envisages base tunnels.
Furthermore, to adapt the Fréjus tunnel to international standards would require the excavation of a second tube (another tunnel), with a cost of almost 2 billion euros and a total wait of 15 years to allow for the decision-making and legislative process and the subsequent work. Even then, this would not resolve the problem of the gradients of the line, which require greater energy expenditure.
Completing the base tunnel for the cross-border section involves a financial commitment for Italy of 2.9 billion euros, of which 2.5 have already been allocated.
Trains are competitive only if they travel on level ground and the only way to do so where there are mountains is to build “base tunnels”. For this reason, seven base tunnels are being built along the Alpine range. In addition to the Mont Cenis, they are: the Gotthard (which connects the Swiss towns of Erstfeld and Bodio, open to traffic since 2016); Ceneri (in the Canton Ticino); Lötschberg (which connects the Swiss towns of Frutigen and Raron and was inaugurated on 16 June 2007); the Brenner (which will connect Innsbruck, in Austria, to Fortezza-Verona, in Italy); Semmering (which is being built in Austria); and Koralm (in Austria).
The trade between Italy and France is worth 81 billion euros. Freight traffic exceeds 44 million tons a year and it is now back to pre-crisis levels. About three million lorries cross the border to transport goods. 92% of this flow travels by road and only 8% by rail, due to the lack of competitiveness of the latter.
The current situation generates a strong level of pollution, since three million lorries travel between France and Italy. The new railway line will allow the transfer of 1 million lorries from the road to the railway, with an annual saving of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those produced by a city of 300,000 inhabitants. The train is the most environmentally-friendly means of mass transport available.
The Turin-Lyon line is a mixed freight/passenger railway line, connecting Italy to the European TEN-T rail transport network currently under construction: 17,500 km of railway line to be operational by 2030. From Turin, it will be possible to reach Paris in 4 hours (today it takes about 6); the time to get to Lyon will be halved.
The construction of the cross-border line involves the connection to the existing lines starting from the new international stations of Susa and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Together with the representatives of the institutions, TELT is studying the integration with the local train services, taking into account the opportunity to support the economic and tourist activities of the territory also by means of the railway.
The execution of all the works entails compliance with very stringent clauses in order to minimise the environmental impact in the valleys.
All the Turin-Lyon construction sites are subjected to a rigorous system of environmental controls based on the good practices already adopted in Chiomonte, where 40 centres have collected 62,000 samples within a radius of 15 km of the site, checking on 135 parameters. These data are used for the Health Impact Assessment, carried out by the University of Turin, which has not found any critical elements concerning health.
Daily environmental monitoring in the site areas has never detected the presence of asbestos fibres in the air. In any case, TELT adopts the highest safety standards by providing for the “entombment” of any potentially asbestos-bearing rocks directly in the excavated tunnels, without ever allowing them to emerge from the mountain.
All the sites have a water treatment plant. Periodic checks are carried out on the watercourses near the construction sites and, so far, the analyses, which are verified by the competent state-run services in Italy and France, have not detected any trace of pollution. In collaboration with the technical services of the Municipalities involved, TELT also monitors the level and flow of water resources.
All the TELT checks are carried out under the constant control of the institutions nominated to undertake inspections.
60% of the materials extracted during the excavations will be reused as a base for the production of cement, or as a filling material. The remaining 40% will be used for landscape redevelopment projects in areas adjacent to the construction sites, in order to minimise the transportation of the material and therefore emissions.
For the first time in Europe, the Italy-France intergovernmental commission has approved the application of a trans-national anti-mafia regulation. To work at the Turin-Lyon construction site, companies must be registered on a “white list” to which they are added following a series of checks on their activities. In addition, three independent control bodies monitor TELT’s activities in its role as responsible for carrying out the work.
The procedures that will assign the works are organised in 81 tenders based on 4 categories, to encourage the participation of small and medium enterprises (up to 5 million euros, between 5 and 50 million euros, between 50 and 500 million and between 500 million and 1.3 billion euros). On the basis of the statistical surveys carried out during the work for the exploratory tunnels of Chiomonte and Saint-Martin-La-Porte, it is estimated that, between contracts and subcontracts, the project will involve approximately 20,000 companies for contracts of all kinds: from minor ones to the most important works.
Already today, almost 800 people are at work, of whom about 530 are employed in the construction sites and 250 in service and engineering companies. At full capacity, the construction of the infrastructure will provide employment for 4,000 direct workers and as many again in associated industries. At present, for the work already completed, over 49.5% of the professionals employed came from the local area.
The Patto per il Territorio in Italy and the Démarche Grand Chantiers in France envisage a programme of public funds with the aim of making the Turin-Lyon sites an engine for the growth of the local economy. Furthermore, no base camps are envisaged for personnel involved in the work, and this has been decided in order to generate positive effects on the economy of the areas where the building sites are located. The project has the effect of an economic multiplier: 1 euro spent produces a contribution to the national GDP of 3.77 euros (Clas Group Analysis - 2018).
The TEN-T network (the acronym TEN-T stands for Trans-European Networks - Transport) is a set of integrated transport infrastructures designed to support the single market, guarantee the free movement of freight and people and to strengthen the growth, employment and competitiveness of the European Union.
The cost of the cross-border section is 8.6 billion euros (in 2012 currency), as certified by a third party. Italy contributes 35% (about 2.9 billion euros) and France about 25%, (2.15 billion euros), while the European Union provides 40% of the funds.
In order to keep the certified cost up to date with annual price variations, the States have created an index for the project cost trend detailed in the Additional Protocol of 2016. This indicator is composed of multiple variables – taken from INSEE for France, ISTAT for Italy and Eurostat – which constitute the inflation basket for the project. To monitor this trend, TELT has created a computer program that scans the INSEE and ISTAT websites in both countries and Eurostat daily and updates the different variables. The States had already foreseen an average increase in the indicator of 1.5% per year, with a cost at the end of the work of approximately 9.6 billion euros.