CONTRACTS worth €80m have been awarded for a trial bore on the alignment of the proposed base tunnel for the Lyon - Torino high speed line.

Lyon-Torino Ferroviaire, the bilateral joint venture company steering the project, announced on February 8 that it had selected a consortium led by CMC of Ravenna, with Strabag of Austria, Bentini Costruzioni of Faenza, Coegis of Torino and Geotecna of Milano after a tendering process launched in August 2004.

The consortium is expected to start work this spring on a 7 km trial bore at Venaus to assess the geology along the base tunnel alignment. The 6m diameter exploratory tunnel under the Massif d’Ambin will run up to 2500m below the surface, and will take up to three years to complete. The contract includes an option for a further 3 km of tunnelling if necessary.

Both the Lyon - Torino and Brenner base tunnels are included in the list of 30 TEN-T projects to be financed from the European Union’s 2007-13 budget, which was adopted by the European Parliament’s Transport Committee on February 2. FS President Elio Catania told Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot that the two connections ’which can strongly contribute to the long-term growth of the railway network constitute the most important infrastructure projects in EU history.’

Meeting in Lyon at the end of January, the Transalpine group of regional authorities warned the French and Italian governments that delaying the opening of the tunnel to 2018-19 would increase the total cost to over €3bn and would have serious impacts on prospects for the local economy.