ITALY’s infrastructure manager, Italian Rail Network (RFI), has awarded a contract worth more than €1.3bn to the Webuild-Ghella consortium for the construction of a new section of line between Fiumetorto and Lercara.

This is part of the project to create a new 250km/h mainline between Palermo, Catania and Messina, the three largest cities on the island of Sicily. Webuild has a 75% stake in the consortium.

“This concludes the awarding of all the sections of the new line between Palermo and Catania, confirming the goal of starting construction sites by the end of the year,” says RFI. The other sections between Palermo and Catania comprise: Lercara - Caltanissetta Xirbi, Caltanissetta Xirbi - Nuova Enna, Nuova Enna - Dittaino and Catenanuova - Bicocca (Catania). There are two new sections between Catania and Messina: Fiumefreddo - Taormina/Letojanni and Taormina - Giampilieri.

The work involves the construction of a 30km double-track line, of which approximately 20km will be in tunnels, from Fiumetorto, on the existing Palermo - Messina main line, south to Lercara. The project includes the construction of a new station at Cerda, a connection with Termini Imerese Interport intermodal terminal and Valle del Torto, as well as the redevelopment and upgrading of Lercara Diramazione station, which will improve connections with Agrigento.

When the entire Palermo - Catania new line has been completed, it will be possible to travel between the two cities in less than two hours compared with just over three hours today. RFI says progressive reductions in journey times are envisaged before then, “thanks to the phased activation of the new stretches of line.”

For more information on Italian rail projects, subscribe to IRJ Pro.