The tendering process for a high speed rail connection between Italy and France has been put on hold amid political clashes over the rising cost of the project.
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has put all tenders for the Turin to Lyon tunnel on hold, after clashes within Italy’s ruling coalition.
Project promoter Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin (Telt) had been in the process of tendering for a €300M (£260M) tunnelling contract on the project. The scheme involves construction of over 160km of tunnels, chamber and access shafts.
The project includes two 57.5km long tubes through the Alps, 45km on the French side and 12km on the Italian side. Four intermediate accesses, five central ventilation systems and three underground security areas are also planned.
Complementary works are also currently in progress with three access tunnels already completed in France and the Maddalena survey gallery in place in Italy. Another survey gallery is currently being built down the Saint-Martin-La-Porte access tunnel, where last summer a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) started excavation.
The pause on tendering comes after Italy’s biggest ruling party Five Star Movement claimed the money should be spent elsewhere after the country’s transport secretary Danilo Toninelli estimated the cost of the project had risen from €8.6bn (£7.4bn) to more than €20bn (£17.5bn). However, Italian government coalition partner The League is a strong supporter of the project.
Telt has now said it plans to go ahead with the tunnel construction on the French side of the project, in order to negate cost overruns resulting from delays.
Meanwhile Italian officials are set to meet with EU and French counterparts in the hope of hammering out a new funding deal.
The EU initially pledged to fund up to 40% of the cost, with Italy paying up to 35% and France up to 25%. But French transport secretary Elisabeth Borne said the EU has offered to increase its share to 50%, leaving France and Italy to cover 25% each.
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