Promoters of what will be the longest rail tunnel in the world are close to securing funding to begin construction proper, NCE has learned.
The 65km long Brenner Base Tunnel will run up to 1.8km beneath the Alps between Innsbruck in Austria and Fortezza in Italy.
Preparatory works are already underway (NCE last week), but project promoter BBT still needs financial commitment from the European Union and Italian government to allow main construction to start as planned in 2016.
The €7.5bn (£6bn) construction cost is being met 27% from the European Union, with the remainder shared equally by the Austrian and Italian governments.
The Austrian government has already committed €1.26bn (£1bn) between now and 2017 to develop the scheme.
BBT chief executive Konrad Bergmeister this week told NCE that a similar €1bn (£800M) funding package was now close to being agreed with the Italian government.
“The Italian government has already committed £226M and another £800M is in the process of being agreed. We had a meeting in Rome last week with Italy’s infrastructure minister and he told us the process was at a good stage with approval planned for the summer.
“Yes, Italy’s finances are not good, but minsters recognise the need to spend on infrastructure,” he said.
BBT is meanwhile lobbying hard for EU funding. The EU is currently working on its spending plans for the 2014 to 2020 spending period. It expects to allocate €376bn to cohesion policy, of which €50bn is already ring-fenced for transport projects.