Taormina, 23 March 2023
Work has begun on the Taormina – Fiumefreddo section of the Catania – Messina line, which is an integral part of the new upgraded Palermo – Catania – Messina railway line.
Among the attendees were the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Matteo Salvini, the President of the Region of Sicily, Renato Schifani, the Mayor of Taormina, Mario Bolognari, the Special Commissioner for the Work Activities, Filippo Palazzo, the Chief Executive Officer of the FS Italiane Group, Luigi Ferraris, and the Chief Executive Officer of Webuild, Pietro Salini.
The event also represented the first stage in Sicily of the “Talking Work Sites” (Cantieri Parlanti), a project conceived by FS Italiane group in collaboration with the companies of the Infrastructure Hub, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, and Italferr, together with the companies involved in the work activities, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and the government’s special commissioner, in order to provide information about the construction sites to the local people and the communities concerned.
Also presented was the new infopoint dedicated to railway investments in Sicily by RFI and Italferr, a company belonging to the FS Group Infrastructure Hub, which, starting today, can be found in the atrium of Palazzo Zanca, in Messina.
The work site
The Taormina-Fiumefreddo section is part of the project of doubling, speeding up, and technologically upgrading the Giampilieri-Fiumefreddo line, one of the most demanding of the Catania - Messina tract, which involves the construction of a new double track 43 km in length, about 37 km of which are underground and will serve as a variant with respect to the existing line.
The interventions will allow for an increase freight traffic and will improve the mobility of Sicilian travellers, reducing travel times between Messina and Catania by 30 minutes, and creating the conditions necessary for the development of a metropolitan-type service. The work activities were entrusted by RFI to the Temporary Grouping of Companies led by Webuild and Pizzarotti, all under the supervision of Italferr. The investment for the entire tract between Giampilieri and Fiumefreddo amounts to over € 2.25 billion, and over 3,000 people will be involved in its construction.
The project for the new Palermo-Catania-Messina line
The new upgraded Palermo – Catania – Messina line, which is an integral part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor, has a total value of over € 11 billion. The project, which is being carried out by RFI with the support of the engineering company Italferr, under the auspices of the government's Special Commissioner, is also being funded by the PNNR.
The project has served as a driving force for job creation. Once fully operational, over 7,000 people will be involved in the project, including engineers, technicians, and workers. The phased completion of the operations in progress along the route will allow for gradual reductions in travel times, to the benefit of people commuting for work, studies, and tourism purposes. The infrastructure’s capacity will also be increased, thus allowing for a greater frequency and number of passenger and freight trains, as well as the possibility of circulating European-standard freight trains, whose greater weights and lengths are not permissible under the current conditions.
Once fully operational, the new Palermo – Catania link will allow the current travel times to be reduced by approximately 60 minutes, connecting the two cities in just 2 hours, as opposed to the current 3 hours. Finally, the completion of the entire project will provide for better interconnections between these three cities and Sicily’s interior.
The Infrastructure Hub’s railway investments in Sicily
The FS Group Infrastructure Hub is investing € 21 billion in Sicily for the modernisation and infrastructural and technological upgrading of the island’s railway lines. In addition to the Messina-Catania-Palermo route, the main projects of the Italian railway network (FS Group), some of which are also funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, include the following: the restoration and electrification of the Palermo-Trapani line via Milo, the doubling of the Fiumetorto-Castelbuono section on the Messina-Palermo route, the Augusta bypass, the closure of the Palermo railway ring, the Palermo hub, and the installation of ERTMS technology. Italferr is the designer of the main projects that will be carried out in Sicily, and, during the contracting stage, envisaged the use of the BIM methodology to support the executive design and construction phases. In particular, this type of design allows for the creation of an information and control model for each phase of the construction site (or for the life of a project), in terms of times and costs (4D and 5D), in order to avoid delays in the execution of the work activities and prevent any extra costs, thus optimising the results.
The “Talking Work Sites” project on the Catenanuova-Bicocca and Taormina-Fiumefreddo tracts
FS Group’s Talking Work Sites project (developed together with the companies RFI and Italferr) is carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the Government’s Extraordinary Commissioners, and the companies involved in the work activities.
All FS Group Infrastructure Hub work sites will “speak” a simple, transparent, and immediate language that's common throughout the territories, in order to tell citizens and stakeholders about their story and mission, while at the same time raising awareness and updating them on the importance of the work activities in progress. This transparency and information initiative will illustrate the benefits of the project, along with updated data, through panels positioned within the work sites, which will be clearly visible to citizens and anyone transiting on the railway lines and roads adjacent to the work sites themselves.
The Talking Work Sites initiative also communicates through a dedicated page on the fsitaliane.it website, which provides updates on the progress and status of the strategic projects. Lastly, specific initiatives will be organised that will transform the work sites into true communication hubs, which will be open to the public (citizens, associations, students, etc.), in order to encourage discussion and dialogue on the changes that these urban areas are undergoing thanks to the work in progress.
In Sicily, the Talking Work Sites project is currently present along the Catenanuova-Bicocca and Taormina-Fiumefreddo sections of the new Palermo-Catania-Messina line.
Infopoint at Palazzo Zanca, in Messina
Within the context of the broader Talking Work Sites project, as of today an infopoint dedicated to the railway investments made by FS Group’s Infrastructure Hub in Sicily can be found in the atrium of Palazzo Zanca, in Messina. The Messina installation was preceded by another in Genoa, and represents the second piece of a wide-reaching initiative, which will later arrive at numerous major train stations, work sites, and institutional headquarters throughout Italy where the railway projects are underway.
The infopoint consists of a temporary structure, with panels illustrating the route of the project, its technical characteristics, updated data on the progress of the work activities, the environmental protection aspects, and the social and economic impacts that the new infrastructures will have on people and the surrounding territories.
After that of Messina, another new infopoint will be installed at the Palermo Central Station.