Great southern projects: a Mediterranean infrastructure hub

From trains to subways, the great projects reviving the South

Southern Italy runs on its infrastructure. Those of today, but especially those of tomorrow. There are many work sites open, and even more that will open, contributing to supplying the area with modern, sustainable infrastructure. From high speed trains which, after the Naples-Bari segment, will cross into Calabria as well, to the planned bridge over the Strait of Messina, for which the government has approved a decree to start construction, Southern Italy aims to become a strategic hub in the Mediterranean thanks to its infrastructures.

The 100,000 jobs that the huge work sites for the bridge linking Italy to Sicily would create are only one of the many levers for the economic revival of Italy’s southern regions. High speed train lines, new highways, subways, bridges and urban renewal projects are some of the powerful tools that European, Italian, regional and local funds can place in the hands of the South.

At the end of 2022, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, the Italian railway network, launched two strategic projects: the financing of a 33 kms long segment of the high speed rail line connecting Salerno with Reggio Calabria, and that for a high capacity rail line between Palermo and Catania. While work progresses quickly on the Naples-Bari line, the planning for the infrastructures of the future looks ahead, bringing high speed rail to Calabria and high capacity railways to Sicily for the first time.

These are epochal changes that will contribute to the completion of the ambitious and visionary links planned by the TEN-T (The Trans-European Transport Network), which will join Palermo with Helsinki. Thus a Europe of people and goods takes shape, a truly modern community in which human and commercial exchanges take place along modern infrastructures inspired by the shared principle of sustainability.

The great projects reviving the South

From Capodichino, where the last of Naples’ subway stations is being built to link the airport with downtown, to the Apice-Irpinia work site, set to be a link of the Naples-Bari high speed rail line, Webuild’s technicians and workers are laboring day and night. In all, Webuild is heading 16 large projects in Italy’s south, employing 4,400 people. They are essential projects for the modernization of several regions. Not just high speed rail lines, but also projects such as the new Statale Jonica 106 road, the renovation of Taranto’s port, the Cumana railway and the Infraflegrea project.

These many work sites opened in Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily, tell the tale of Webuild’s commitment to Southern Italy and the precious contributions assured by the many companies that are supplying and working with the group. In all there are 3,800 direct suppliers involved with the projects in the south, totaling 2,5 billion euros in contracts.

This means jobs and economic growth that reflect directly on the local areas given that the near totality of the companies and workers involved in the projects come from the areas near the work sites.

The future of the South, new projects and opportunities

The infrastructural rebirth of the South is an economic and employment rebirth. In the next few years, just for the Messina-Catania and Palermo-Catania railway lines in Sicily, 3,000 jobs will be created. And these will be highly skilled jobs, such as engineers, technicians, administrators, carpenters and operators of earth-moving equipment. Professionals accompanied by highly innovative equipment like the TBMs, the mechanical moles, which will be used in Sicily to bore the tunnels. On those two Sicilian railway lines seven TBMs are expected to be used, a record number compared to the average in use on European work sites.

A great stage for the talent of the future

This story of infrastructure renewal has a dedicated chapter for young workers, which today represent 44% of Webuild’s workforce, a percentage destined to grow in the next few years. On southern work sites there are many young graduates recruited out of university thanks to the program “100 young engineers for the south,” an initiative Webuild launched to select the best talents in the universities and bring them to the work sites where the great projects of the future are being built.

The group has signed several partnerships with universities, including those of Messina, Catania and Salerno. The meeting of industry and university is aimed at selecting and training new graduates that dream of beginning their career by entering a work site.

In Naples, Palermo and Apice, the young engineers have arrived in the last few months and will continue to arrive, finding work opportunities right at the center of some of the most challenging projects in terms of engineering and infrastructure.

A role in world affairs for the South

Italy’s ambition to increasingly become a strategic hub of the Mediterranean profoundly rewrites the role and importance of its South. In 2023, North Africa’s GDP is expected to grow by 3,5%, more than the European average, while the Mediterranean is becoming increasingly attractive for companies. Today, 60% of large companies is considering moving to Europe their Asian production. These great global changes are an opportunity that must be seized rapidly. To do so, it’s necessary for Southern Italy to be able to offer investors, and naturally its citizens, modern infrastructures, meaning rapid exchanges, well connected commercial hubs, modern ports efficiently connected to Europe’s great transport networks. Seizing this opportunity means activating a virtuous spiral that brings with it work, innovation, sustainability, and improvement of quality of life. All the ingredients of progress.