Campania, Puglia, Calabria, Sicily and even Sardegna. Almost every region of Southern Italy today is in the midst of a profound infrastructure renovation, a change of pace compared to the past, fueled by the PNRR (the national plan for investments) and the will to bring Southern transport standards to the level of those in the north of the country, completing those intermodal corridors that will be the future of European transport networks.
From the mountains in Campania to the plains of Puglia, from the winding coast of Calabria to the barren Sicilian countryside, tens of work sites are open and thousands of women and men are at work to complete the projects.
According to the Italian transport ministry, of the 61,4 billion euros available, (some from the European loans, others from national resources), to this day 33, 8 billion euros, about 56% of the total, have been allocated to eight regions of the South. In total, 48% of the PNRR funds and 75% of national funds will be destined to this region.
High speed rail lines certainly make up the biggest expense, as well as the greatest revolution the area will witness in the coming years. The current end of the high speed line, at Salerno, will be widely extended, reaching Puglia, Calabria and linking the Sicilian cities of Palermo and Catania. It will bring an epochal change to the entire country and merge an historic rift between northern and southern Italy.
Webuild, 19 projects to speed up the South
Looking at the locations on the map you have first of all the picture of how widely they are spread around the peninsula. The 19 ongoing projects in the South mean open work sites, people at work, rail lines emerging from nothing. Today there are 4,500 workers active on the work sites managed by the Webuild group, with 3,800 suppliers and a total of 2.5 billion euros in supply contracts.
These resources contribute to bring wealth and jobs to the South, in addition to their direct consequence of course, the construction of modern infrastructure that will connect cities, towns and regions in a fast and sustainable way.
And so we start in Campania, where work progresses on the high speed rail line that will reach the Irpinia station and from there continue its journey to Bari, in Puglia. From Naples high speed trains will also run south towards Calabria to realize one of the most important sections of the Italian rail network, the Salerno-Reggio Calabria. The government aims to complete this project by using 1.8 billion euros from the PNRR and 9.4 billion euros of state funds.
In Calabria Webuild is also at work on the construction of the new Statale 106 road, which will replace the old Jonica road connecting the region with nearby Puglia. The efforts in Sicily are significant, especially for this region that has been historically backwards when it comes to its transportation infrastructure, and will change radically thanks to the completion of a fast line connecting some of its most important cities including: Palermo, Caltanissetta, Enna, Catania and Messina. In Sicily alone, Webuild will construct 171 kms of line, and the company expects to create 5,800 jobs.
Specifically, the latest bids the group was awarded by RFI Gruppo FS Italiane, the Italian railway company, and financed with PNRR funds, include two sections: the Battipaglia-Romagnano on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria line, and the Lercara-Caltanissetta Xirbi section of the Palermo-Catania line. For these two projects alone, Webuild expects to create 3,500 jobs, which will add to the engineers, technicians and workers already busy modernizing the South.
A modern South dreaming of the bridge over the strait
High speed railways and much more. The dream of a modern South, interconnected, linked with the rest of Europe, requires a number of infrastructural projects that aim to modernize the regions that still suffer from an economic lag compared with the rest of the country. In fact, in addition to the rail lines, the MIMS ministry envisages a series of projects for the South. These include 1.7 billion euros for the development of rapid mass transport in some cities, the renovation of the regional and intercity trains, the renovation of 50% of the busses that ensure public transport outside urban areas, the technological monitoring of road safety, as well as the renewal of the ships operating on the Messina strait, for which 80 million euros will be earmarked. The Strait, soon to be reached by high speed railways both from Calabria and from Sicily, becomes more than ever a key interconnection point. The bridge over the Strait, the building of which was just approved by the Italian parliament, may become the metaphor for the region’s leap forward, which will not be just physical but also economic, cultural and social.