DETAILED design studies and exploratory works for the Lyon - Torino rail link and base tunnel project are to get under way ’immediately’, according to Sergio Pininfarina, President of the intergovernmental commission set up to oversee the project.

Meeting in Torino on July 24 to follow up the June 28 discussions between Transport Ministers Jean-Claude Gayssot and Pietro Lunardi, the commission agreed to the formation of a new company to undertake the studies. This will be registered under French law with a registered office in Chambéry and headquarters in Torino; senior executives are to be named this month. A key priority will be to shorten the planned timescale for construction of the base tunnel.

The initial proposals drawn up by Alpetunnel GEIE for development of the new link were endorsed by infrastructure companies Réseau Ferré de France and Rete Ferroviaria Italiana at the end of June. RFF and RFI have also agreed a programme of works to enhance the capacity of the existing line by 2005. New piggyback wagons being developed for this route are to be certified by both countries before the end of 2002.