Turin-Lyon Base Tunnel

Turin-Lyon Base Tunnel

The Lyon-Turin is a new railway line for freight and passengers that stretches 270 kilometres, 70% of which is in France and 30% in Italy. It is the central link in the Mediterranean Corridor, one of the 9 axes of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) stretching 3,000 kilometres and connecting 7 EU corridors from east to west.

The cross-border section, built by the bi-national promoter TELT, joins the 65 kilometres between the two international stations to be built in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Susa/Bussoleno, where the tracks then connect to existing lines. The main operation is the Mont d’Ambin Base Tunnel, being the longest railway tunnel ever built. The twin-tube, single-track tunnel is 57.5 kilometres long, 45 kilometres of which are in French territory and 12.5 kilometres in Italian territory.

The works underway involve the excavation of a total of 162 kilometres of tunnels for the project, a complex machine consisting of two parallel tunnels, four shafts and 204 safety bypasses. Over the years, 113 kilometres of geognostic soundings and core drillings have already been carried out in Italy and France.

More efficient, ecological and economic infrastructure

The new project shall take more than 1 million lorries per year off the roads and result in the Alpine region breathing better thanks to the reduction of 1 million tonnes of CO₂ annually.

150 years after the inauguration of the Frejus railway tunnel (at 1,300 metres in altitude), through which the current historic line passes, the new tunnel transforms the existing mountain line into a lowland railway, making rail transport more competitive.

Having the train travel on level ground enables energy savings and higher speeds. Along the French-Italian section, the historic line does not currently meet international transport standards. The line actually climbs up the mountain with a gradient of up to 3%, meaning trains need as many as three locomotives, requiring as much as 40% more energy. The old Frejus tunnel, opened in 1871, has a smaller diameter than today’s international standards and has a single tube, which is also not up to current safety standards.

The advantages for freight transport

  • Increased interchange – with the creation of the real alternative to road transport, it will be possible to intercept the increased movement of freight, as is the case with the other Alpine passes;
  • Increased load capacity – diffusion of the European standard will allow trains with capacities of up to 1,500 tonnes to pass, compared to 600–700 tonnes today;
  • Ecology – one train eliminates 60 heavy vehicles travelling on the roads;
  • Cost-effectiveness – rail transport costs decrease over time whereas road costs increase. 

The benefits for passenger transport

  • More trains – the project envisages 22 long-distance trains per day, as opposed to the 6 TGVs currently running on the historical line between Turin and Lyon (Source: Notebook 11 of the Observatory);
  • Reduced travel time for:

                - Turin-Lyon (without intermediate stops) at 1h 47" compared with 3h 47";

                - Milan-Paris at 4½ hours instead of approximately 7 hours; 

                - Turin-Paris at around 4 hours for a saving of about 1½ hours;

                - More connections, with the possible origins-destinations for passengers on a range of European routes being multiplied, bringing new passengers onto the train, using the corridors and their connections.

65 total kilometres
8,6 mld € in investiment

Work progress

The details of the progress of work on the Turin-Lyon base tunnel are as follows:
  • Design
    Since 2015
  • Permits
    Since 2018
  • Tenders
    Since 2020
  • Start of work
    Since 2007
  • End of work
    Since 2032