TBM breaks ground on Italian high-speed rail project

15 October 2020

Construction has officially started on the 48km Brescia Est to Verona high-speed railway in Northern Italy with the launch of CREG’s TBM Martina. A high-profile ceremony held at Lonata del Garda was attended by national and local dignitaries.

The US$2.9bn west-east line will share 8km of its length with the existing Milan-Venice line and will follow the A4 motorway for 30km. It will connect Mazzano with towns to the east of Verona and will involve a total of 10.2km of tunnel.

Owner RFI (Italian Railways) awarded the project to Consorzio CEPAV Due comprising Saipem (59%), Impresa Pizzarotti (27%) and Gruppo ICM (14%).

The TBM is the first that China Railway Engineering Group (CREG) has exported to Europe. The 10.03m-diameter EPB machine will excavate the 7.95km twin-bore tunnel from Lonato del Garda to Desenzano del Garda with the two tubes positioned at 30m centres. Overburdens will range from 5-80m in a geology that is expected to be mainly silt and cobblestone but with some boulders, as well as glacial sediments. The machine has been designed with twin screw conveyors to operate in high water and earth pressures. Where pressures are below 2bar it will switch to single-screw mode.

Also part of the overall project is the construction of two other shorter tunnels: the Frassino tunnel and the San Giorgio tunnel.

The line is expected to be completed in 2023.