MILAN, March 25, 2019 – “Today we celebrate in Sicily not only the start of a strategic project but also a relaunch of Sicily itself which, with this new section of the Palermo – Catania railway, welcomes this opportunity to further the development of the island’s infrastructure and create jobs in a region that has seen high levels of unemployment and a loss of workers to other areas of the country. This project alone will provide work for a combined total of 1,000 people, helping relaunch employment in the region for 1,000 families, especially Sicilian ones,” said Pietro Salini, Chief Executive of Salini Impregilo, at a ceremony celebrating the start of the €186-million project to expand the 38-kilometre Bicocca and Catenanuova section of the railway line between Palermo and Catania. The project belongs to a European Union initiative to create the so-called TEN-T network to connect and improve the functioning of the continent.
“This is an important project for the people who will work on it as well as those who will eventually benefit from a faster connection between the two parts of the island. The effect that this project will have today and when it will be completed is proof of how much it is a priority for Italy to relaunch the entire infrastructure sector and create jobs. Our company has been present in Sicily for nearly 100 years but it has been away from it for 15 of them. That means that there have not been any opportunities to build important infrastructure systems for the development of the region in the last 15 years.”
Today the number of people working for companies in this sector under crisis in Italy is a combined total of 66,000. When taking into account their families, we are looking at more than 260,000 people in economic difficulty.
Between 2008 and 2017, Europe lost 3.4 million jobs in the construction sector. Of the total, 539,000 were lost in Italy. This haemorrhaging of jobs concerns southern Italy where 40% of these half million jobs were lost. Sicily was the region most severely hit, responsible for the loss of 50% of the total lost in southern Italy.
At the inaugural ceremony of the project in Catenanuova, those present included Italian Infrastructures and Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana Chief Executive Maurizio Gentile, Marco Falcone, regional council member responsible for infrastructure and mobility, and Catenanuova Mayor Carmelo Giancarlo Scravaglieri.
Rete Ferroviaria Italiana commissioned the project to the Raggruppamento Temporaneo di Imprese (RTI) consortium, with Salini Impregilo as the leader and other members including Astaldi, SIFEL and CLF. The first results are expected to come in 2020 with the opening of a line that will allow trains to travel faster at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour. All of the work is scheduled to be completed by 2022. Once other projects are finished, it will be possible to travel between Catania and Palermo in less than two hours by 2025.
The work includes a new railway headquarters, the installation of signalling and communication systems, electrical substations to power the trains, the renovation of the Bicocca station and the construction of a new station at Motta Sant’Anastasia.
Salini Impregilo has a long expertise in railway infrastructure in Italy and elsewhere. It is also involved in complex systems of high-speed and high-capacity trains. It built the high-speed railway lines between Milan and Turin, and the one between Bologna and Florence. Between Genoa and Milan, it is building the Terzo Valico dei Giovi high-speed railway line. It is also working on the Brenner Base Tunnel between Italy and Austria that will be the longest railway tunnel in the world once completed. In Perth, Australia, it is working on a light rail line called the Forrestfield-Airport Link.