Annually, more than 45 million tonnes of goods travel between Italy and France along the Alpine Arc. Of these, 92 per cent are transported by road, with significant consequences for the environment.   

Recognising that transport emissions comprise a quarter of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, the European Commission set a target of achieving a 90 per cent reduction by 2050.   

The TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Network) is a policy promoting sustainable connectivity across the region. Stretching over 270 kilometres, the Lyon-Turin line – a new high-speed rail link for freight and passengers – forms an integral part of TEN-T’s Mediterranean Corridor.   

We were appointed, as part of an international JV, delivery partner to the client, TELT (Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin) – the French-Italian public promoter of the project – to support the delivery of the design, procurement, and construction of the cross-border section of the new railway, including its central feature: a 57.5-kilometre-long tunnel.  

Our work on the project involves the technical assistance to the civil works, rail systems and environmental prescriptions. We are also the BIM consultant responsible for defining the project’s BIM strategy and protocols and for the monitoring of the BIM implementation during the works phase.  

The Mont Cenis base tunnel is the core element of the project and will be the world’s longest railway tunnel to date.

Navigating highly technical challenges  

The Lyon-Turin rail line encompasses three parts: the French part (under SNCF-Reseau management), the joint Italian French part and the Italian part (under RFI management).   

We are working on the 65-kilometre-long cross-border section of the line, which spans from Susa-Bussoleno in Italy to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in France and links up with the existing Italian and French lines.   

After crossing Italy’s Dora River, the route travels through the Susa valley, where the future site of the new international station will be situated, before entering the 57.5-kilometre tunnel.   

The Mont Cenis base tunnel is the core element of the project and will be the world’s longest railway tunnel to date. Covering 45 kilometres in France and 12.5 kilometres in Italy, it includes more than 200 safety by-passes, four access adits, five ventilation plants and three underground security areas.  

Since 1871 and even currently, trains climb the Alps up to an altitude of 1,300 metres via the Frejus tunnel – a significant waste of both energy and resources. The new tunnel will provide a faster, cheaper connection by allowing trains to travel across level ground.  

A cohesive and collaborative approach  

As the cross-border section is largely underground – with 90 per cent in tunnels – our expertise has been critical for navigating the complex terrain and excavating safely underground.   

In addition to the technical complexity of the work, meeting compliances and approvals posed another challenge. As a binational project, this demanded strict compliance with both French and Italian standards and regulations – as well as environmental legislation and security constraints.  

By working collaboratively, we are successfully demonstrating cohesive teamwork across countries.   

Why is the Lyon-Turin rail line important?  

The Lyon-Turin rail line – which is expected to be operational in 2033 – will not only enhance safety and speed for passengers travelling between Italy and France. It also promises to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by transferring the equivalent of one million lorries from road to rail.  

Thanks to our extensive expertise and experience on similarly complex projects, we’re well positioned to deliver this critically important project. Paving the way to a cleaner, more efficient transport network in Europe.