Webuild calls for six times more infrastructure spending after high-speed rail tunnel breakthrough

Crews on Friday (16 April) celebrated the breakthrough of the 7-km-long Serravalle tunnel, the second longest of the 53-km-long Terzo Valico dei Giovi high-speed railway in Italy that will speed up travel between Genoa and Milan. It is being built by a consortium led by Webuild.

The breakthrough inside a chamber of the tunnel at Libarna in the province of Alessandria was witnessed remotely by Italian Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility Minister Enrico Giovannini.

Webuild chief executive Pietro Salini used the occasion to call on the Italian government to raise proposed Covid recovery infrastructure spending from €50bn over six years to €300bn.

"I see there is a big political debate over the Recovery Plan, which foresees investments in infrastructure over  a period of six years for nearly €50 billion, representing 0.5% of GDP," said Salini.

He said more spending was needed to revive the economy.

"We’re talking about at least €300bn, which is in line with investments being made by other European countries in infrastructure."

The Serravalle tunnel presented complex challenges, Webuild said, including the need to bypass the Serravalle Outlet and to protect the historic, above-ground Genoa-Turin railway, which required sophisticated monitoring systems above and below ground. 

The railway will cut travel time between Genoa and Milan and join the Rhine-Alpine corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), ultimately connecting Genoa on the Mediterranean Sea with Rotterdam on the North Sea.

Serravalle is surpassed in length by the 27.25-km Valico Tunnel.

Image: The 10-m-diameter Tunnel Boring Machine "Elisa" broke through the Serravalle Tunnel on 16 April (Courtesy of Webuild Group)

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