Brussels, 29 June 2006
When work starts tomorrow, 30 June 2006, to drive an exploratory gallery along the line of the future Brenner Base Tunnel, this will be a milestone towards completing the modal shift from road to rail for crossing the Alps. The European Commission is pleased with the rapid progress being made and confirms its support.
“The Brenner Base Tunnel is a major European project which is forging ahead”, said Jacques Barrot, Commission Vice-President with responsibility for transport. “I am glad of this because the need to reconcile the demands of mobility with protecting the very special environment of the Alps continues to be a major concern for me.”
The pilot tunnel will furnish precise geological information, reducing the risks and costs of constructing the two main tubes of the future tunnel, and will be used for removing water and spoil during tunnelling operations. It will consist of several segments stretching along the line of the future tunnel for a total distance of 53 km. Construction of the pilot tunnel between 2006 and 2009 will cost €430 million and will be 50% EU funded. The decision to start building the pilot tunnel was taken by the Austrian and Italian transport ministers in Vice-President Barrot’s presence in Salzburg on 5 May 2006.
To speed up the execution of the priority projects of the trans-European transport network, the European Commission appointed six European coordinators in July 2005. Karel Van Miert was put in charge of priority project No 1 "Berlin-Verona/Milan-Bologna-Naples-Messina-Palermo". "Our aim is to put in place the conditions for a competitive rail capability to enable it to meet a higher proportion of transport needs. The Brenner Base Tunnel project forms an integral part of this plan", he said.
The Brenner Base Rail Tunnel project is one of the key components of priority
project No 1 of the trans-European transport network. It consists of a 56-km
twin-tube tunnel between Austria and Italy. The total cost of building the
tunnel, including studies and the pilot tunnel, is estimated at €4.5
billion. On the basis of this, Austria and Italy have asked for a European
contribution of around €900 million for the period 2007-2013. The
financial breakdown of the budget available for trans-European networks
(€8.013 billion for the period 2007-2013) will be made on the basis of the
Financial Regulation relating to the granting of financial aid for the
trans-European transport networks. The Commission proposed a revised version of
this Regulation on 24 May 2006, and it now has to be approved by the European
Parliament and the Council.