The European Commission announced a EUR 3.4 billion allocation for the modernisation of 178 km section between Fiumetorto and Bicocca on the Palermo-Catania railway line.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a total investment of EUR 2.1 billion, divided into a direct EUR 800 million loan to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and an innovative EUR 1.3 billion counter-guarantee, designed in conjunction with FS Italiane, in favour of financial intermediaries, of which EUR 500 million has been earmarked for the pioneering operation with Intesa Sanpaolo and EUR 300 million for the operation with CDP (Cassa Depositi e Prestiti), with a further EUR 500 million yet to be allocated.
The 50% counter-guarantee is backed by the InvestEU programme and enables the guarantees to be doubled to EUR 2.6 billion. When added to the financing granted to the MEF, this brings the value of the resources activated to EUR 3.4 billion. The project is also included in the Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan with EUR 1.4 billion.
“Citizens expect concreteness and we have a duty not to disappoint their expectations. We are committed to making up for lost time, accelerating the work, and guaranteeing efficient connections in Sicily. Connections that are especially useful considering that the government is determined (after decades) to make the bridge between the island and Calabria a reality,” the Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said.
When completed, the modernised line will reduce travel times by a third and will contribute to modal shift and sustainable development in Sicily. On the line, part of the Scandinavia-Mediterranean Corridor, freight and passenger trains will travel at a maximum speed of 200 km/h, helping to reduce the travel times on this route by approximately 60 minutes. As a result, direct trains between the two cities will take two hours instead of the current three.
“The commitment of the EIB, the MEF, the MIT and all the signatories to this agreement strengthens the commitment of the companies in the FS Group, such as Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, that are implementing the projects provided for in the NRRP, the government programme contract, and our business plan, which covers over EUR 110 billion in this sector,” CEO of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Luigi Ferraris said.
The funding for Palermo-Catania railway line is being made available for infrastructure improvements in Sicily as a result of the agreement presented on March 14, 2023 at the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the EIB Vice-President Gelsomina Vigliotti, European Commission Acting Deputy Director General for Mobility and Transport Herald Ruijters, CEO of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Luigi Ferraris, CEO of CDP Dario Scannapieco, and Chief of Imi Corporate & Investment Banking Division at Intesa Sanpaolo Mauro Micillo.