Terzo valico and Genoa junction

Terzo valico and Genoa junction

The new Terzo Valico line is primarily aimed at improving the connections of the Ligurian port system with the main railway lines in northern Italy and with the rest of Europe, in line with the strategies announced in the EU’s Transport White Paper – to transfer 30% of freight traffic or over 300 kilometres – from road to rail by 2030 and 50% by 2050, with benefits for the environment, safety and the economy.

As a fundamental part of the TEN-T Rhine-Alps Core Corridor – the most important European north-south axis along which the largest volume of goods transported in Europe moves, crossing the countries with the greatest industrial vocation (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy), the Mediterranean with the North Sea, and the ports of the Upper Tyrrhenian Sea with those of northern Europe – the Terzo Valico shall render it possible to overcome the current obstacles to the development of rail transport between Genoa, Milan and Turin.

Indeed, the two existing railway lines have technical characteristics that are not up to European standards, limiting the possibility of running large and heavy freight trains between the port of Genoa and northern Europe. These are lines with effective characteristics directly related to the construction standards of the time in which they were built – the “Linea dei Giovi”, completed in the mid-19th century, has a gradient of 35 per thousand, greatly winding and used exclusively by local passenger traffic and to a lesser extent by freight traffic. The “Succursale dei Giovi” line, completed in the early 20th century, has a gradient of 17 per thousand and is also used by long-distance passenger traffic.

Thanks to its technical characteristics, in particular the slope and gauge (width) of the tunnels, being much higher than those of the existing lines, the new high-capacity line will allow the transit of trucks on freight trains (Rolling Highway) and High Cube containers. In parallel, by also allowing the passage of long-distance passenger trains, the Terzo Valico integrated with the Genoa Junction will reduce travel time between Genoa and Milan and between Genoa and Turin.

Calogero Mauceri was appointed Extraordinary Governmental Commissioner for completion of the works.

The Track

53 kilometres in length, 70% of which is in tunnels, the new line involves 14 municipalities in the provinces of Genoa and Alessandria and is connected to the south – via the Voltri interconnection and the Bivio Fegino – with the railway facilities of the Genoa Junction as well as with the port basins of Voltri and Porto Storico in Genoa and, from the Novi Ligure plain, to the existing Genoa-Turin lines (for traffic streams in the direction of Turin and Novara-Simplon) and to the Tortona-Piacenza line (for traffic streams in the direction of Milan-Gotthard).

Starting from the Bivio Fegino and up to the Piana di Novi, with the exception of a short open-air stretch in the municipality of Arquata Scrivia and in correspondence with Libarna, the new line unfurls within three natural tunnels (Galleria di Valico, Galleria Serravalle and Galleria Campasso) to then run out in the open up to the artificial tunnel of Pozzolo before extending once more in the open until joining the existing Pozzolo–Tortona line (the itinerary for Milan). Within the Serravalle Gallery, the Novi Ligure interconnections branch off to form the connection to and from Turin along the current Genoa-Turin line. On the Genoa side, the Voltri interconnections then branch off within the Valico tunnel, allowing a direct connection of the Terzo Valico with the Bretella di Voltri (beltway) and thus with the port of Voltri and the Genoa-Ventimiglia line.

At approximately 27 kilometres in length, the Galleria di Valico has four intermediate access windows for both construction and safety purposes. In line with the most advanced safety standards, most of the sections of the tunnel shall be constructed in two single-track tunnels side-by-side and joined by cross-connections every 500 metres so that each can serve as a safety tunnel for the other.


Operations on the Genoa Junction

With Law 55/19 – the Unblocking Construction Sites Decree – works on the Genoa Junction pertaining to the Voltri-Brignole infrastructural upgrade and the last mile between the Terzo Valico and the Port of Genoa have been unified with the Terzo Valico into a Consolidated Project.

Implementation of the works on the Junction shall allow an increase in the capacity of the lines afferent to the Genoa Junction, with a potential consequent rise in the frequency of trains, through the separation of regional and metropolitan trains from long-distance and freight trains, along with the connection between the last mile of the Terzo Valico dei Giovi and the Port of Prà-Voltri and the historic port of Genoa.

The Voltri-Brignole infrastructure enhancement project consists in two main macro interventions: the “Sextuplication” and “Quadruplication”. In particular, the "Sestuplicamento" of the Principe-Brignole section envisages the extension of the existing C. Colombo and S. Tomaso tunnels to create a new Genova Principe-Genova Brignole route dedicated exclusively to metropolitan-regional traffic.

The “Quadrupling” of the Genua Voltri-Genua Sampierdarena section, rather, counts four tracks – two of which are for metropolitan and regional traffic along the current route of the coastal line and two for long-distance trains (freight and passengers), achieved with the completion of the Bretella di Voltri and its entry near the Sampierdarena station. This will also facilitate a direct connection to the Terzo Valico dei Giovi for incoming or outgoing freight at the Port of Prà Voltri.

For the environment

Governance of the proper implementation of the work in terms of the environment is carried out by the Ministry of Ecological Transition (MITE) through two bodies:

  • The Environmental Observatory (OA), which examines the implementation of the infrastructure and its effects on the territory from an environmental perspective, supervises the execution of environmental monitoring and provides any useful initiative deemed necessary.
  • The Special Commission for Environmental Impact Assessment then carries out institutional verification (EIA, PUT, etcetera).

In addition, the ARPAs (Regional Agencies for the Protection of the Environment) play the role of technical-scientific support to the Environmental Observatory and its Thematic Working Groups and as of 2017, have been full members of the EO.

Specific agreements signed with RFI regulate the Company’s contribution to the activities of the ARPA to verify the proper execution of environmental monitoring (also by means of field inspections and parallel sampling, as well as via proposals for any extra additions or activities and/or corrective measures to be implemented in the event of critical issues).

Amongst the coalition of environmental protection efforts, of particular relevance are those related to:

  • Reuse of excavated material – as goods not classified as waste that will be partly reused for the construction of the new line and partly earmarked for environmental redevelopment, particularly of quarry sites that are no longer active. Where logistical conditions permit, conveyor belts have been provided that bring the excavated material directly to the site to be redeveloped, avoiding transport by road. This is the case, for example, for the soil excavated from two of the Valico Tunnel’s “windows” – that coming out of the Cravasco window shall be transferred directly to the Castellaro quarry, located on the opposite side of the valley, whilst that emanating from the Vallemme window shall be transferred to the former Cementir Quarry, located opposite the entrance to the window itself.
  • Asbestos – in the event of the discovery of asbestos in excavated material, specific procedures shall be activated, defined through the Asbestos Risk Management Protocol for the Terzo Valico drawn up by the Asbestos Working Group of the Environmental Observatory and signed by the Piedmont and Liguria Regions and the Provinces of Alessandria and Genoa.
  • Hydrogeology – the Environmental Observatory, with the support of the Liguria and Piedmont Regions, set up a special Hydrogeology Working Group, which carried out a study on the springs present and those at possible risk of siltation, on the basis of which the necessary corrective measures regarding the work execution methods have been defined, along with the procedures for monitoring the quality of the water points ante operam, during construction and post operam.
  • Noise – sound-absorbing/sound-reflecting barriers are planned for the mitigation of noise impact in the open-air sections of the new line.
250 km/h maximum speed
53 total kilometres
5 active worksites
3 new stations
3,000 people employed
8.462 billion € in investiment
Most important work
Valico Tunnel (27 kilometres with 4 windows)
Interconnections with the existing network
12 kilometres
Maximum slope and interconnections of the line
  • Strengthening the connections of the Ligurian port system with the rest of Northern Italy and Europe "Area Banana Blu"
  • Reducing travel time between Genoa-Milan and Genoa-Turin
  • Constant monitoring of excavated rocks (asbestos) Safeguarding springs of water
Webcam in operation on the Terzo Valico
Novi-Tortona line, the Pozzolo Artificial Tunnel, southern entrance (in the direction of Milan)

Work progress status

The construction of the work - entrusted to the general contractor led by Webuild - is divided into six non-functional construction lots, all of which are fully financed and are currently in the construction phase.

At the end of October 2023, the tunnel excavation works were over 86% complete across a total of approximately 88 km of underground works, with active tunnel faces. The new railway section consists of three blind-bored tunnels, the largest of which is the Valico Tunnel at 27 km long. The excavation works for the tunnels of the Genoa Juncture have been completed.

  • Design
  • Permits
  • Tenders
  • Start of work
    Since 2012
  • End of work

Terzo Valico and Genoa Junction - Terzo Valico and Genoa Junction

Stages of progression: WORKS 

  • Design end date: 2005
  • End date of the authorisation process: 2006
  • Date of tender publication: 2011
  • Start date of executive design and implementation: 2012
  • Work end date: December 2024 - June 2025
  • Activation Date: March 2026 (activation Genoa Junction from 2024)