France and Italy have entered into an agreement to build a high-speed rail line between Lyon and Turin.
The agreement for the €8.5bn first phase defines the conditions for undertaking the project and the elements necessary for the completion of the project, including its final route, phasing and funding of the high speed line.
The first phase entails a 57km base tunnel through the Alps between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in France and Susa in Italy to connect the border regions.
When completed in 2023, the rail line will cut travel time between Paris and Turin to four hours from the current seven hours and will also shorten journey times between other major European cities. The high speed train will shorten the journey time between Lyon and Turin to two hours compared to the current four hours.
EU is expected to fund 40% of the project cost and Italy will contribute 57.9% of the remaining €8.5bn fund, while France will provide 42.1% of the remaining fund for the first phase of the project.
The annual operating costs of the tunnel route have been estimated at €34m, but the heavy freight traffic is expected to bring significant environmental benefits in terms of noise and pollution.
The new base tunnel route between Lyon and Turin is being designed to handle the high volumes of freight traffic, together with its expected increase over the coming decade.
According to an estimate without the new route, the current railway will become saturated by 2015 but will still only be carrying 13 million tons of freight.
The entire route from Lyon to Turin will be designed for operational speeds of up to 250km/h, but in contrast to many recent railway projects, the infrastructure will be shared by both passenger and freight trains. Standard gauge 1,435mm track will be used throughout the route to allow continuity with the French and Italian railway systems.
Image: The first phase of Lyon and Turin high speed rail project includes a 57km base tunnel through the Alps between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in France and Susa in Italy.