FS begins excavation of the Naples-Bari line’s Grottaminarda tunnel
Another step in the construction of a railway line that will connect Bari in two hours from Naples and three from Rome is underway: the excavation of a new tunnel at Grottaminarda in the province of Avellino, on the Apice-Hirpinia key section of the new high-speed Naples-Bari line, began on 8 August 2023. This 628 million euro project is part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Railway Corridor of the European TEN-T network.
FS Group’s Infrastructure department is carrying out this project on behalf of RFI, with Italferr as the works manager. The Aurora tunnel boring machine is being used for the construction of the Grottaminarda tunnel. The machine is a 100-metre-long “mechanical mole” with 18 motors. The Grottaminarda tunnel will be approximately 2 kilometres long. It is the first of three tunnels planned on the route between Apice and Hirpinia, which is 18 kilometres long, of which 12 are underground.
The tunnelling site will work continuously for about five months. In addition, a tunnel lining ring will be built, which will consist of nine prefabricated segments 55 centimetres thick and 1.80 metres long each. Over 100 workers divided among four teams, will be employed to ensure continuous excavation. According to RFI CEO Gianpiero Strisciuglio, “This highly strategic work represents a driving force for the economic development of the South and the entire country. (…) It will produce important economic effects on businesses and workers, with over 7,000 people employed every day.”
A strategic TEN-T project
The Naples-Bari line will make it possible to improve the connections of Puglia and the innermost provinces of Campania with the Naples-Rome-Milan high-speed line and will speed up the direct cross-connection between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas. The new HS/HC Naples-Bari line is part of the TEN-T Scandinavia-Mediterranean European Railway Corridor. The work is scheduled for completion in 2027.
It is the most advanced work that the FS Group’s Infrastructure Pole is carrying out to upgrade the railway network in Southern Italy with an investment of 5.8 billion euros, also financed with the EU post-covid recovery funding (PNRR fund). This project is part of the FS Group’s commitment to renew the country’s railway infrastructure and improve its mobility system, a plan that envisages investments totalling 125 billion euros over the next decade, for the construction of new lines, the performance enhancement of existing ones, and the technological and digital upgrading of traffic systems as well.
Genova-Ovada-Acqui Terme line
In addition to the Grottaminarda tunnel excavation project, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, the lead company of the FS Group’s Infrastructure Pole, will begin maintenance and infrastructure enhancement works planned on the Genoa-Ovada-Acqui Terme line. This first phase of interventions will take place between 12 August and 10 September 2023, making it necessary to completely interrupt traffic on the line during this time. This project represents a total investment of 84 million euros.
The work programme includes the construction of an artificial tunnel near Mele station, the complete restoration of the double-track connection between Mele and Campo Ligure, and the consequent reorganisation of the tracks and switches in both locations. The accessibility of the stations of Prasco, Rossiglione, Campo Ligure, Mele, Genova Costa di Sestri Ponente and Acqui Terme will also be improved.
In particular, in this first phase of works, which runs from 12 August to 10 September, ballast, sleepers and rails will be renewed for about 12 kilometres of the line between Genoa Borzoli and Mele, for an investment of about 12 million euros. During the activities, two special trains will be used, the so-called “renovator” train, which will replace the rails and sleepers, and the “renovator” train, with which the ballast will be replaced and the track repositioned for subsequent levelling operations.
In this first phase, through additional sources of financing, RFI will also carry out maintenance work on the works of art along the line (bridges, viaducts and tunnels), consolidate the lining of the Del Ciso tunnel, between the stations of Rossiglione and Ovada, and waterproofing work on the 5 arched spans of the Visone Viaduct between the stations of Prasco and Visone.