EUROPE: The governments of France and Italy have formally agreed to go ahead with the Lyon – Torino railway project, including the 57 km Mont Cenis base tunnel.

France’s President Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Renzi signed the agreement at a Franco-Italian summit on February 24. This enabled the submission shortly afterwards of a joint application for €3bn of EU co-funding to cover 40% of the cost of construction works.

The construction phase of the project could start in 2016 and is to be managed by Tunnel Euralpin Lyon-Turin, a new company established on February 23 and owned equally by the French state and Italian national railway FS. TELT takes over responsibility for the project from Lyon Turin Ferroviaire, which was created in 2001 to develop detailed proposals for the scheme.

The agreements were welcomed by the European Commission. ‘Following last week's final approval of the project design by the Italian government, the Lyon – Torino project is now irreversible and this is a major success for all parties involved,’ said Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, European Co-ordinator for the Mediterranean Corridor.