CONSTRUCTION work has started on Bologna’s 16.5km Red Line light rail route, the first of four lines planned in a 57km network for the Italian city.

The 16.5km Red Line will run from Emilio Lepido in the west to Bologna Central mainline station. From there it will turn north with two branches, one running to Parcheggio Michelino and the other to Facoltà di Agraria/CAAB, serving the city’s school of agriculture and veterinary medicine.

Ceremonies were held to mark the start of construction at the site of the future depot at Borgo Panigale, which is planned to provide stabling for 60 LRVs as well as providing maintenance facilities, and at the future Michelino-Fiera terminus.

Design work for the Red Line was carried out by Systra and a joint venture comprising Sotecni, Architecna, Studio Mattioli, Aegis and Cooperativa Archeologia. The route was approved by the city council in April 2021 and declared to be of public utility in July 2021. In August 2021, tenders were called for a contract to design and build the project, which was awarded for €320.5m to a consortium led by CMB and also comprising Alstom Ferroviaria, Amplia and Alstom Transport in July 2022.

The new line will run on an embedded rail system (ERS) and is to be largely powered by catenary, except for a 2km section where it is to be operated using battery-powered LRVs to avoid the need for catenary masts and wires in Bologna’s historic city centre. The line will also run on a segregated alignment and is expected to be completed in 2026.

A map showing the routes of the first two planned Red and Green Bologna light rail lines. Picture credit: Arbalete/Wikipedia Commons

The project is a part of the Urban Sustainable Mobility Plan (Pums) adopted on November 27 2018, which envisages the reintroduction of light rail in Bologna that will gradually replace the main bus and trolleybus network with four light rail lines: Red, Green, Yellow and Blue, plans for which were announced in 2019.

The 7.4km Green Line is expected to be the second line to be built, with the first phase connecting the Red Line, with which it will share a 1.5km section, with the northern municipalities of Corticella and Castel Maggiore. The second phase will run east to Due Madonne.

The Yellow Line will connect Casteldebole in the west with Rastginano in the southeast, while the Blue Line will link Casalecchio Garibaldi in the southwest to San Lazzaro di Sevenna in the east.

The whole four-line network is expected to be by 2030 when it will carry 300,000 daily passengers.

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