The European Commission has approved a EUR 300 million state aid for ERTMS for Italy to remove technical barriers to rail interoperability.
The aim of the Italian scheme is to promote the shift of freight and passenger transport from road to rail and to improve the security and efficiency of rail transport.
Italy intends to support the installation of the latest available version of the ERTMS on vehicles running on the Italian rail network.
Italy aims to implement the ERTMS on the entire national rail network by 2036. Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of direct grants to railway companies for the acquisition and installation of ERTMS on-board equipment. The scheme will run until 31 December 2026.
The Commission found that the state aid for ERTMS will have an ‘incentive effect’ as the beneficiaries would not carry out the investments in the absence of the public support.
The Commission also found that the scheme is necessary to support interoperability and promote the use of rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport and reduces road congestion, in line with the objectives of the EU Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and the European Green Deal. Under the EU State aid rules, the assessment also found that the scheme is proportionate, as it is limited to the minimum necessary, and has a limited impact on competition and trade between Member States.
In January, RFI launched a EUR 2.77 billion tender for the design and installation of the ETCS Level 2 on its network. The tender was split into four lots (based on geographical areas) and the completion of the works is scheduled to take place in 5 years. In June 2022, RFI has selected the winners of the contracts.
Under Italy’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, 3,400 km of tracks will be equipped with ETCS Level 2 until 2026 and 1,377 km of additional lines will benefit the digital system by 2024. In 2025-2026, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) plans to install the new system on more than 2,000 km of lines while 5,000 vehicles will have the ETCS system installed.
In 2026, the ETCS will be installed on 16,700 km of Italian lines increasing the train speed and punctuality.