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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
18/03/19 12:16

Berna gave the green light to the extension of Alptransit to the Italian border

Switzerland revised its negative decision about the urgent extension of the high-speed/high-capacity railway line beyond the Ceneri, speeding up the Lugano-Chiasso timings by (at least) 15 years. Good news for Italian ports and interports

Following the request submitted by Liguria Regional Council President Giovanni Toti and by the Councillor for Economic Development, Industry, Trade, Crafts, Ports and Logistics Andrea Benveduti to the President of the Transports Committee of the Council of States of the Federal Assembly, the Swiss Minister Simonetta Sommaruga took a positive decision about an infrastructure issue involving also Italy that had long remained unsolved.

In fact, the manager of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transports, Energy and Communications (DATEC) decided to launch the designing phase of the AlpTransit Lugano-Chiasso line in order to complete its designing by 2025 and its construction within 2035, thus speeding up the completion of the new line by 15-20 year.

The Alptransit South project includes a new 25 Km long high-speed railway line from Lugano to Chiasso, at the border with Italy, to support the Gotthard and the Ceneri base tunnels.

“This extraordinary result will allow the Liguria Region to emphasize its leading role with regards to the completion of the European railway Corridor Genoa-Rotterdam both at the General Assembly of North-West logistics scheduled for next Friday in Milan, and at the Italy-Switzerland Forum on 12 and 13 of April in Genoa”, rejoiced REConsilia architect Luca Clavarino, one of the greatest promoters of the accessibility to the new Swiss railway also from South.

His satisfaction was shared by the coordinators of the apolitical association Pro Gottardo ferrovia d’Europa established in 2016 to bring forward the designing and completion of AlpTransit to 2030-35.

The shift southwards of the AlpTransit project – based especially on Lotschberg, Gotthard and Ceneri – was announced by the federal councillor during the debate about the 12.8 billion francs credit for the expansion of the railway infrastructure 2035.    

Studies to connect Lugano to Chiasso, and consequently to Italy, will start in 2019 and they will be completed in 2025, therefore before deciding the next expansion phase in 2016.

In November 2018 the Grand Council unanimously voted a resolution to complete AlpTransit from border to border, by the Bern Government rejected it arguing that feasibility studies had already been completed, thus showing that it did not plan to build southwards connections before 2050 (light-years away from Italian ports and interports needs).

In June 2018, Sommaruga’s predecessor Doris Leuthard declared that “the extension of AlpTransit from Lugano to Chiasso is not an issue on the federal Council’s agenda. In fact, there is neither the possibility nor the need to add this work to the expansion strategy related to the railway infrastructure 2030-2035”.

These words frustrated the expectations of Italian intermodal and logistics operators as they prevented them from accessing the Gotthard and, from 2020, also the Ceneri base tunnel.

Angelo Scorza