Italy to miss RRF deadlines: more funds cut from rail freight projects
The Italian government cut 1,5 billion euros that were to be destined for the doubling of the Rome-Pescara railway, which connects the Italian west and east coasts. This was confirmed by the country’s Minister of Infrastructure Matteo Salvini. The reason behind the unavailability of the funds is that Italy did not respect the deadlines set to unlock the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) implemented by the European Union.
In total, the government cut 1,465 billion euros that were supposed to be distributed among three projects. The first 568 million were removed from the project to improve the section connecting the Interporto d’Abruzzo intermodal terminal, the main one in the area, to Pescara via Chieti. An additional 277 was planned for the doubling of the section between Sulmona and Pratola Peligna. The remaining 620 million euros were to be used for the upgrade of the Tagliacozzo-Avezzano, Scafa-Manoppello, and Manoppello-Interporto d’Abruzzo sections.
One of the EU’s deadlines was to have the line ready to be used by 2026. This is clearly not an achievable milestone for the Italian government and the Abruzzo Region, who blamed delays caused by previous governments. The President of the Region Marco Marsilio claimed that money would be found, without specifying how and when. Italy and Minister Salvini are in a bit of a situation currently. What happened in Abruzzo is not the first example of the country missing out on RRF funds. Last week, it was also confirmed that almost 300 million euros were cut, for the same reasons, from a massive project in Tuscany.
Doubling the Rome-Pescara line
The first feasibility studies to double the Rome-Pescara line, tasked to the Italian infrastructure manager Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, started in 2002. In 2008 the first preliminary project was presented to the Ministry of Transport. Things kept moving slowly, as between 2016 and 2020 more studies were carried out by RFI. During this period, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between RFI, the Ministry, and the Abruzzo and Lazio regions. In 2021 things started to look encouraging, with the project being included in Italy’s plans for its RRF. However, it now remains to be seen whether the government will be able to find the funds somewhere else and follow through with a project deemed necessary for the past couple of decades.