Alstom Minuetto near Taormina

Photo: Benjamin Zelki

ITALY: RFI has signed contracts covering the planning, design and construction of a new alignment between Taormina and Giampilieri in Sicily, which is the first stage of a project to eliminate the last remaining single track bottleneck on the Messina – Catania main line.

The €1bn contract has been awarded to a consortium led by Webuild Group (70%) and Pizzarotti (30%), and work is expected to start on site in early 2022.

The current single-track route which runs along the coast will be entirely replaced by a 28∙3 route-km double-track corridor suitable for 200 km/h operation located further inland. Of this, no less than 25 km will be in tunnel.

Key elements of the package include civil works, electrification, signalling and telecoms installation. The new alignment will require the excavation of two single-bore and six twin-bore tunnels and the construction of seven viaducts. Two new underground stations are to be built to serve Taormina, while there will also be six other stations or halts. The existing station at Letojanni is to be heavily remodelled.

RFI intends to let a second package of works to complete the realignment project; this will cover the 14 km between Taormina and Fiumefreddo. Once the scheme has been completed, the journey time between Messina Centrale and Catania Centrale will be reduced by 30 min to 45 min.