The consortium comprises Webuild (45.44%), Astaldi (37.49%) and Hitachi Rail (17.07%). Lamaro Appalti and Fintecna also hold a minor stake in the project.

The contract is the first of three lots that will be awarded for the Verona - Padua line, with the first lot divided into two sections. The first section, worth €984m, is fully financed and includes the start of civil works, construction of the railway superstructure and installation of railway systems. The second section, worth more than €1.7bn, is expected to be financed within the next 12 months and involves the completion of civil works, and the construction of equipment and railway systems.

The 44.2km section will run between Verona and Bivio Vicenza to the west of Vicenza. A total of €2.7bn will be invested in the section, which is due to open in 2027, with the full Verona - Padua line expected to cost €4.8bn.

The line will form part of the Mediterranean TEN-T corridor linking Spain and Ukraine.

The contract signing comes as Webuild looks to purchase the struggling Astaldi under its Progetto Italia strategy, after the acquisition was approved by an Italian court in July. The group currently directly and indirectly employs around 11,000 people across Italy, a figure that is set to rise to 15,000 by 2022. About 85% of these people work in small and medium-sized companies in the supply chain.

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