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IP/05/781

Brussels, 22 June 2005

Commission welcomes progress of Brenner Base tunnel project

A coordination meeting was held in Brussels on 22 June 2005 on the Brenner base tunnel. The Brenner base tunnel is a transalpine tunnel which will connect Austria and Italy and allow for a substantial increase in transalpine freight traffic by rail. The meeting with all parties involved allowed to measure the positive results achieved so far and the remaining works to be done in order to finalise the project by 2006 and decide upon launching the construction phase.

The company entrusted with the elaboration of the project BBT SE (Brenner Base Tunnel Societas Europae) presented an interim status of its works to representatives of the Member States and regions involved (Tyrol, Trentino Alto Adige, Bayern), the European Investment Bank, and the European Commission.

Progress towards completion of the definition phase in 2006 was considered as very encouraging, while the remaining activities to be performed were clearly identified. Traffic and charging studies will be finalised in the coming months, while an overall financing and concession model will have to be further worked out.

In particular, the timely construction of a pilot tunnel was considered as very important to reduce geological uncertainties during the main construction phase and better assess its costs. The Commission confirmed its support to the pilot tunnel and stressed the importance of a quick start of its construction in order to exploit at best the geological data before launching the construction of the main tunnel. The decision to drill the pilot tunnel is expected to be taken by the Intergovernmental Commission (Italy and Austria) early September 2005, in order for both governments and for the Commission to make the necessary budget appropriations and in due time for starting the works by mid-2006. The Commission could finance up to a maximum of 50% of the pilot tunnel.

The 56 km Brenner Base Tunnel is a key element of the TEN-T Priority project n°1 (Railway axis Berlin-Verona/Milan-Bologna-Napels-Messina-Palermo). The Brenner Basis tunnel will reinforce considerably the competitiveness of railway traffic along the strategic Munich-Verona stretch and heavily contribute to a better modal shift in the sensitive Alpine region.

The European Commission is currently co-financing 50% of the studies and preparatory works for the preparation of the project. So far it has put around € 40 million into the project. Target date for putting into service the tunnel is 2015.


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