The call comprises two lots. The first is worth approximately €672m and involves upgrades to the Fiumefreddo - Taormina - Letojanni section of the line. The second is worth €1.1bn and will upgrade the section from Letojanni to Giampilieri.

FS describes the projects as the most challenging of the entire Messina - Catania upgrade and will involve construction of 42km of double track, 37km of which will run underground, which contrasts with the existing at-grade single track railway.

The projects will complete track doubling of the Messina - Catania section of the line and will reduce current journey times by 30 minutes. FS is investing €2.3bn in this section, which is part of a €9bn investment in the Palermo - Messina - Catania fast connection plan. The project will increase line speeds to 200km/h on the line and offer a journey time between Palermo and Messina of less than two hours, compared with 2h 47min at present.

Italian Rail Network (RFI) awarded a €186m contract to track double the 38km Bicocca - Catenanuova section to a consortium of Salini Impregilo, Astaldi, Sifel and CLF in 2017.

FS reports that this work is now at an advanced stage while the process of securing approval from the Superior Council of Public Works for the final five lots is underway. In addition, final design of a new underground line from Catania Central to Catania Acquicella, which will extend the line to Catania airport, is underway along with the process of securing approval to proceed with excavation.