INTRO: Italian high-speed line authority TAV SpA is due to award a formal contract to the Cepav-Uno consortium this month for construction of the Milano - Bologna route at a cost of 8 995bn lire. Chris Jackson talked to project managers Galliano Ballarani and Giovanni Caccia *

BYLINE: * Galliano Ballarani is Project Manager, Milano - Bologna at Italferr SpA, the Italian Railways’ engineering company, and Giovanni Caccia is Senior Assistant Project Manager, Milano - Bologna

HIGH ABOVE Milano’s Porta Garibaldi station, the offices of Italferr SpA, the Italian Railways’ engineering company, are a hive of activity. Mountains of reports, blueprints and specifications are being assembled, teams of engineers are poring over minute details, and ambitious plans are turning into formal agreements. Everywhere there is an air of optimism.

This month is due to see the formal signing of the construction contract for the 182 km core section of the long-planned Milano - Bologna high-speed line. Design of the project - a key component of the so-called ’Grand T’ Alta Velocità network - has been under way for almost a decade, but for the past seven years the project has been mired in the complexities of Italy’s public works planning approvals process.

The final alignment was eventually ratified last November, and everything was in place. Events began to move rapidly. A letter of intent was issued to the designated contractor at the end of January, with the aim of completing the last detailed negotiations within three months. With a formal contract award during May, Project Manager Galliano Ballarani expects that construction will finally get under way before the end of June.

That will start the clock ticking on an agreed construction timescale of 69 months. Civil engineering works will occupy the first 44 months, overlapping into another 14 months for the installation of track, catenary and signalling. A final 11 months for commissioning puts the handover date at spring 2006. Six months has been allowed for full-scale test running before the line opens, which should see the start of revenue services with that year’s winter timetable.

High-speed line construction in Italy is the responsibility of TAV SpA, the Italian Railways dedicated company formed in the mid-1990s with a minority stake held by private sector investors. Italferr is acting as client engineer, approving the design and construction, managing the contract and overseeing the project on behalf of TAV. Ballarani currently has around 20 people based in Milano who have brought the project through the development phase, but he expects the team to reach 150 during construction. In addition, he will be able to draw on technical support functions from Italferr’s headquarters in Roma.

General contractor for the line is the Cepav-Uno consortium, led by the state petroleum group ENI with its three subsidiaries Snamprogetti, Aquater and Saipem, plus civil engineering firms GLF, Pizzarotti and CCC. Electrical and mechanical equipment will be supplied by the Saturno consortium, which is nominated subcontractor for all TAV projects.

With the Bologna - Firenze line due to open in 2004 and Roma - Napoli in 2002, inauguration of the Milano - Bologna section will complete the stem of the Grand T. However, the remodelling of Bologna station is a separate scheme, which is part of a wider modernisation of FS hubs.

Iterations in the planning phase

Formal approval for Italian public works projects comes from the Conferenze del Servizi, a detailed planning conference convened by the Ministry of Transport, which includes representatives from all regional authorities, local municipalities and service utilities in the affected areas. Disputed sections must go back for amendment and are then brought to another Conferenze. In the case of the Milano - Bologna line, the authorisation process required six conferences over a period of seven years. Senior Assistant Project Manager Giovanni Caccia says this was largely due to the higher population density in the fertile Po valley compared with other sections of the Grand T.

Detailed design for the new line began in 1991, following the signing of an initial agreement between TAV and Cepav-Uno. After a year of engineering design, the first Conferenze was held in December 1993. A second followed in February 1994, and a third in December 1995. The fourth was convened in July 1996, and the fifth in July 1997. This approved the alignment between Milano and Parma, which was ratified by the Ministry of Transport in July 1998, but a sixth Conferenze was called at the end of 1998 to clarify the final section between Reggio Emilia and Modena.

Caccia says that the many iterations saw much of the alignment moved closer to the existing motorway, to reduce the environmental impact and minimise the ’closed areas’ of land isolated between the two routes. This inevitably resulted in higher costs, as many of the road interchanges will have to be rebuilt to accommodate the rail route. Other environmental mitigation works have also been incorporated into the final alignment to satisfy the various local authorities.

The sixth conference in 1998-99 resulted in a substantial re-routing of the section through Modena, requiring a reduction in the curve radius from 5450 to 3440m, restricting speeds in this area to 240 km/h. A 2 km section will now have to be cut through a rubbish tip, requiring special remedial works and watercourse protection.

Another section will be carried on a 14 km prefabricated ’Omega’ viaduct with high sides to cut noise emissions. Other works required to satisfy the municipality include a substantial relocation of the existing main line on the western approaches to Modena, releasing some railway land for an urban development zone.

Emphasis on capacity

Although the Grand T is primarily a high-speed corridor, the nature of FS operations in the Milano - Bologna corridor has changed during the long approvals process. Conventional passenger and freight traffic has been growing steadily, and Caccia explains that ’the emphasis has changed from Alta Velocità to Alta Capacità’. As a result, the new line will be more closely integrated with the old.

The alignment has been modified in places to permit the operation of freight trains at off-peak periods, and for diversionary purposes. Key changes include additional connections to and from the old line, and a reduction in the ruling gradient from 1·8 to 1·5%. The new line is designed for a maximum speed of 300 km/h, apart from the 240 km/h restriction through the curves at Modena.

As with other Italian high-speed lines now under construction, the route will be electrified at 25 kV 50Hz. This will require dual-system locomotives for freight work, as the existing line and the main stations will remain wired at 3 kV DC. The latest builds of high-speed trains are already designed for dual-system operation.

The many changes, environmental mitigation measures and related works, including new access roads, have added substantially to the final cost of the project. Caccia says that the new line only accounts for about 70% of the 8995bn lire contract price. Relocating the existing lines in Modena has added another 430m lire to the bill.

The route described

Leaving Milano, the AV line diverges from the existing route at San Donato. The first 11 km to Melegnano was completed several years ago, and has effectively been used since then as a quadrupled section of the main line. The current contract starts from the interconnection at Melegnano, and runs to the western outskirts of Bologna.

From Melegnano the new line swings south from the old, paralleling the A1 motorway to the outskirts of Piacenza. The route loops north of that city on a long viaduct across the Po flood plain, throwing off connections both west and east so that stopping services can reach the existing station. Regaining the A1 corridor, the line heads east to Reggio Emilia, with further interconnections northwest of Fidenza and northeast of Parma.

Reggio Emilia will be served by the only intermediate station on the new line itself. Located on the northern outskirts of the town, this will provide a right-angled interchange with an existing north-south line leading to the main station in the town centre.

Instead of striking directly from Reggio Emilia to the north of Modena, the line will now follow the A1 as far as the motorway interchange at Rubiera and then swing sharply north on a long viaduct to an interconnection northwest of the town, and then curve around a new industrial zone being developed in the northern suburbs. Another connection will be provided east of Modena, from where the new line parallels the old for a straight run into Bologna.

The new line officially ends at Anzola, where the new and old lines join to feed into the reconstructed ’Nodo di Bologna’. Under the 2200bn lire reconstruction, a low-level station is to be built for high-speed and inter-city services, with the existing station converted to form a regional and urban public transport interchange, fed by new local services on the six rail routes which radiate from Bologna. As part of this programme, 13 new stations are to be built in the suburbs and surrounding towns, including a station at the airport alongside the high-speed line.

Construction details

The majority of the line will run on low embankment, with 49 km on viaduct. There will also be 10 short artificial tunnels for environmental reasons. Caccia says the movement of fill material for the embankments poses a major logistical challenge. The rich fertile soil along the route is not suitable for building embankments, so large quantities of fill will have to be brought in. Quarry sites and delivery points will be selected to minimise the impact on local communities. In addition, TAV has agreed to fund some improvements on roads which will be heavily used by construction traffic.

Other elements in the civil works programme include resolving 141 conflicts with road alignments, and rebuilding 61 road overbridges along the A1 corridor. Around 90 km of new roads will have to be built, either for diversions or to provide new access to neighbouring land. Over 1500 utility diversions will be needed, including 400 waterway channels forming part of local farm irrigation networks.

The trackwork will consist of continuously-welded UIC60 rails on concrete sleepers at 600 mm spacing, stone ballasted throughout to a minimum thickness of 350 mm, even on the viaducts. In the case of embankments, a layer of bituminous conglomerate 120 mm thick will be laid under the stone ballast to improve the load distribution on the 300 mm compacted soil layer beneath.

Power supplies for the new line will be drawn from the national grid through two 132 kV feeders. Four substations along the route will feed the overhead at 25 kV 50Hz. Power supplies and train control will be co-ordinated from a single power control and signalling centre (PCS).

Train control will be ETCS Level 3, with moving block and radio data links. Messages from the PCS will be carried by optic fibre to radio base stations every 12 km along the route, and then transmitted to and from the trains by GSM-R digital radio. Although the data links will provide the primary means of train location, the line will also be equipped with track circuits as a back-up.

Similar equipment is to be installed on Bologna - Firenze and Roma - Napoli, and in the longer term TAV expects that ETCS will replace the existing cab signalling on Roma - Firenze. A PCS at Bologna will control the Milano - Firenze section, with another at Roma to manage the Firenze - Napoli route. A third PCS will be built in Milano to control the planned Torino - Milano - Venezia corridor.

Milano - Bologna in figures

TABLE: The new line

Length of double-track 182·2 km

Interconnections 8, totalling 55 track-km

Conventional lines, double-track 16 km

Conventional lines, single-track 19 km

Maximum speed 300 km/h

around Modena 240 km/h

on interconnections 160 km/h

Minimum curve radius 5450 m

around Modena 3340 m

Track centres 5 m

on interconnections 4 m

Steepest gradient 1·5%

Power supply 25 kV 50Hz

Civil engineering works

Embankment, double-track 160·5 km

Embankment, single-track 54·1 km

Viaduct, double-track 36·3 km

Viaduct, single-track 13·0 km

Artificial tunnel, double-track 3·7 km

Artificial tunnel, single-track 0·8 km

Bridges over roads 69, totalling 16531 m

Noise barriers length 94525 m

Noise barriers surface area 310160 m2

Volume of stone ballast 1432530 m2

Technical stations 102

Length of 132 kV power lines 216 km

Italferr is the engineering company of Italian rail operator FS Group and one of the largest rail engineering companies with a turnover of around 260bn lire (134m euro) a year. Italferr is playing a strategic role in the upgrading and development of Italy’s railways. The company operates in domestic and international markets on traditional, high capacity and metropolitan rail networks. More information is available on

CAPTION: A dramatic cable-stayed bridge has been designed to carry the new line across the Po river near Piacenza

CAPTION: To minimise environmental intrusion, the Milano - Bologna high speed line will closely parallel the A1 motorway for most of its length

CAPTION: The low multi-span viaduct across the Taro river is typical of most viaducts proposed for the new line

CAPTION: The 14 km viaduct to carry the line around Modena will be built using prefabricated ’Omega’ sections incorporating high sides to reduce noise emissions

Summary in French, German and Spanish:

Milano - Bologna to open in 2006

Italian high-speed line company TAV SpA is due to award a formal contract this month for construction of the 182 km Milano - Bologna route at a cost of 8995bn lire. Under a letter of intent issued to the Cepav-Uno consortium earlier this year, construction and commissioning are due to take 69 months, with opening of the line expected in 2006. Chris Jackson discussed the project with Galliano Ballarani and Giovanni Caccia, Project Managers for the Milano - Bologna line at Italian Railways’ engineering company Italferr SpA.

Milano - Bologna prêt en 2006

L’entreprise italien responsable de la grande vitesse, TAV SpA, va désigner ce mois-ci l’entreprise qui construira une ligne de 182 km entre Milano et Bologna, estimée à 8995milliards de Lires, après signature d’un contrat formel. Dans une lettre d’intentions transmise au consortium Cepav-Uno au début de l’année, la construction et la réception s’étaleront sur 69 mois, la mise en service étant prévue pour 2006. Chris Jackson s’est entretenu avec Galliano Ballarani et Giovanni Caccia, directeurs de projet pour la ligne Milano - Bologna au sein d’Italferr SpA, entreprise d’ingénierie des chemins de fer italiens

Milano - Bologna: Er