Today saw the award of tunnelling contracts worth over €3bn on the Lyon-Turin railway line. The three contracts, awarded to consortia led by EIFFACE, VINCI and Implenia, will see the construction of a 57.5km base tunnel which will run under the Alps between France and Italy.
Lot 1, the 21.9km stretch of parallel tunnels which run from Villarodin-Bourget/Modane to the border was awarded to a consortium headed up by EIFFAGE Génie Civil, Spie Batignolles, Ghella and Cogeis for a sum of €1.47bn. This project will require two TBMs, combined with traditional drill-and-blast for the more challenging geological sections.
Lot 2 concerns the 23km section between Saint-Martin-la-Porte/La Praz and Modane. A consortium led by VINCI Construction Grands Projets, Dodin Campenon Bernard, VINCI Construction France TP Lyon and WeBuild wil deploy a combination of three TBMs and traditional methods on the contract, priced at €1.43bn.
Lot 3 is the shortest of the three sections: 3km between the entrance portal at Saint-Julien-Montdenis on the French side of the Alps and Saint-Martinla-Porte. All constructed traditionally, the winning consortium led by Implenia Suisse with Implenia France, NGE, Itinera and Rizzani de Eccher put in a price of €228 million.
Speaking at a press conference, held by Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin (TELT), the company responsible for delivering and operating this stretch of railway, TELT general director Mario Virano said that the tender assessment process had been lengthy. “We had a total of 70 people working for nine months with over five months of negotiations with the different enterprises in order to obtain the best results from a technical and financial point of view.”
A further contract, Lot 4, is yet to be awarded. Running between the French border and Susa in Italy, and involving two TBMs, this 12.km section will cost around €1bn. There will also be a €2bn safety and railway installations contract, covering the whole of the base tunnel, up for grabs.
Some sections of the 162km total length of tunnel that will make up the base tunnel system have already been constructed in earlier contracts. These include a 10.2km portion of the Southern tube within the Lot 2 section and four access tunnels at various points along the route.
As well as answering questions about how TELT intends to keep the Mafia out of its tunnelling contracts, Virano also spoke about possible delays to the project schedule. Completion was originally planned for 2030, but recent suggestions that this date could be pushed back to 2032 seem reasonable, said Virano.
However, Virano pointed out that there could be unexpected issues along the way and he also commented: “What worries us is all the red tape that we are working with, according to national laws, because although TELT has the power of operation, all the authorisations come from the Government and the funders.”
Jointly financed by Europe, Italy and France, the Lyon-Turin railway is part of the TEN-T European rail network, on the Mediterranean corridor linking the Iberian Peninsula to Eastern Europe. By removing 1 million lorry movements from Alpine roads, the line should deliver economic and environmental benefits.