THE last diaphragm wall in the Monte Aglio Tunnel was demolished on June 22, marking a major breakthrough on the Naples - Bari high-speed/high-capacity line, the first section of which is due to open in 2024.

The 4km tunnel, which connects Maddaloni and Valle di Maddaloni, is part of the Cancello - Frasso Telesino section. Excavation began in June 2019, and was completed using conventional methods, with the use of monitoring systems enabling work to be carried out safely 24 hours a day.

Other work on the Cancello - Frasso Telesino section includes providing double track and increasing the line speed on 16km, constructing 6km of new track between Cancello and Valle di Maddaloni, rebuilding the 9km Valle di Maddaloni - Frasso Telesino section and new stations at Valle Maddaloni and Frasso Telesino/Dugenta.

The work already completed on the section, including the tunnel breakthrough, will allow the launch of a direct service between Naples and Bari by 2024 using the existing Rome - Naples line via Cassino.

Italian Rail Network (RFI) awarded the CFT Consortium a €340m contract to build the Cancello - Frasso Telesino section, which is now 60% complete. The consortium includes Impresa Pizzarotti, Itinera and Ghella, supervised by RFI subsidiary Italferr.

RFI CEO and general manager, Ms Vera Fiorani, and Italferr CEO and general manager, Mr Andrea Nardinocchi, were present at the diaphragm wall breakthrough ceremony, along with CFT Consortium president, Mr Gianluigi Aguglia, and extraordinary commissioner for the works, Mr Roberto Pagone.

The entire Naples - Bari line will cost €5.8bn, with the full project due to be completed in 2027. This will provide a Bari - Naples journey time of two hours, and a Bari - Rome journey time of three hours. The new line will form an integral part of the European Union’s TEN-T Scandinavia-Mediterranean Railway Corridor and is being financed through Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).

The Naples/Afragola interchange and the Bovino - Cervaro section have already been completed, while work is underway on the Napoli - Cancello, Cancello - Frasso, Frasso - Telese, Telese - San Lorenzo, San Lorenzo - Vitulano and Apice - Hirpinia sections. Work is due to begin in July on the Hirpinia - Orsara and Orsara - Bovino sections.

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