The new Terzo Valico (Third Pass) is primarily aimed at improving the links from the Ligurian port system with the main railways in Northern Italy and the rest of Europe, in line with the strategies announced in the EU White Paper on Transport: with the transfer from road to rail by 2030 of 30% of freight traffic being transported over 300 km, and 50% by 2050, with environmental, security and economic advantages.

A fundamental part of the TEN-T Rhine-Alps Core Corridor  the most important axis on the connection between north and south which sees the largest amount of goods transported in Europe, crossing the most industrialised countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy). Connecting the Mediterranean with the North Sea, the harbours of the Northern Tyrrhenian with those of Northern Europe –the Terzo Valico will mean that the current obstacles to rail transport between Genoa, Milan and Turin can be overcome.

The two existing railway lines actually do not have technical characteristics in line with European standards, which restrict the possibilities of moving freight trains of large size and weight between the port of Genoa and northern Europe. They are lines with performance levels which are directly linked to the construction standards of the time when they were made: the “Giovi line”, which was built in the mid-19th century has a gradient of 35 per thousand, with a lot of winding curves and is largely used by local passenger traffic and less so by goods traffic; the “Giovi Branch Line”, which was completed at the beginning of the 20th century, has a 17 per thousand gradient and is also used by long-distance passenger traffic.

Because of its technical characteristics, especially the gradient and size (width) of the tunnels, which are far superior to the existing lines, the new high-capacity line will allow lorries to be carried on goods trains (Rolling Highway), and High Cube containers. At the same time, with long-distance passenger trains also being able to pass, the Third Giovi Pass integrated with the junction will mean that journey times between Genoa and Milan and Genoa and Turin will be reduced. 

The most important work - The Valico Tunnel (27 km with 4 windows)

Main technical characteristics 

Length of the new line: 53 km, of which 37 km is in tunnels

Interconnection with the existing line: 12 km

Planned speed at maximum: 200-250 km/h

Maximum gradient of the line and the interconnections: 12.5 per thousand

Investment: 7.46 billion euro, dedicated to the Consolidated Project of the Terzo Valico dei Giovi and the Genoa Junction. The project is part of the Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza (PNRR – Italy's National Recovery and Resilience Plan).

Completion of works: 2024

President Mario Draghi visits the site of the Terzo Valico in Genoa together with the top management of FS, RFI and the Extraordinary Government Commissioner for the works 

On 9 February 2022, an inspection took place at the worksite of the Consolidated Project of the Terzo Valico dei Giovi-Nodo in Genoa, a project included amongst the investments of the PNRR (Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan), by President Mario Draghi, accompanied by the President of the Liguria Region, Giovanni Toti, the Mayor of Genoa, Marco Bucci, the Extraordinary Commissioner of the Consolidated Terzo Valico dei Giovi-Nodo di Genova project, Calogero Mauceri, Renato Franceschelli, Prefect of Genoa, Luigi Ferraris, CEO of the FS Italiane Group, Vera Fiorani, CEO of RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, the Webuild CEO Pietro Salini and Andrea Nardinocchi, CEO Italferr SpA.

The track

It is 53 km long, of which 80% is in tunnels, the new line goes through 14 municipalities in the provinces of Genoa and Alessandria and is linked to the South – through the interconnection at Voltri and the Fegino junction – with the rail infrastructure in the Genoa hub as well as port basin areas at Voltri and in the Historic Harbour of Genoa and, from the Novi Ligure plain, to the existing Genoa-Turin lines (for traffic going to Turin and Novara - Simplon) and the Tortona - Piacenza line (for traffic going in the Milan - San Gotthard direction).

Starting from the Bivio Fegino and up to the Piana di Novi, with the exception of a short open-air stretch in the municipality of Arquata Scrivia and in correspondence with Libarna, the new line unfurls within three natural tunnels (Galleria di Valico, Galleria Serravalle and Galleria Campasso) to then run uncovered up to the artificial tunnel of Pozzolo before extending once more in the open until joining the existing Pozzolo–Tortona line (the itinerary for Milan). Within the Serravalle Gallery, the Novi Ligure interconnections branch off to form the connection to and from Turin along the current Genoa–Turin line. On the Genoa side, the Voltri interconnections branch off within the Valico tunnel, allowing a direct connection of the Terzo Valico with the Voltri junction and thus with the port of Voltri and the Genoa–Ventimiglia line.

The Valico Tunnel, which is around 27 km long, envisages the construction of four intermediary access windows due both to construction requirements and safety. In line with the most advanced safety standards, the tunnel sections will largely be made with two tunnels, with the tracks simply running parallel every 500 metres and joined so that each can play the role of safety tunnel for the other. 

Work progress

As of 30.11.2021, the actual progression of the excavation of the Terzo Valico tunnels had reached 75%. Overall, the economic progress of the Consolidated Project of Terzo Valico dei Giovi and the Genoa Junction is 3,611 million euro, equal to 48% of the total cost.

Operations on the Genoa Junction

With Law 55/19 – the Unblocking Construction Sites Decree – works on the Genoa Junction pertaining to the Voltri-Brignole infrastructural upgrade and the last mile between the Terzo Valico and the Port of Genoa have been unified with the Terzo Valico into a Consolidated Project.

Implementation of the works on the Junction shall allow an increase in the capacity of the lines afferent to the Genoa Junction, with a potential consequent rise in the frequency of trains, through the separation of regional and metropolitan trains from long-distance and freight vehicles, along with the connection between the last mile of the Terzo Valico dei Giovi and the Port of Prà–Voltri and the historic port of Genoa.

The Voltri–Brignole infrastructure enhancement project consists of two main macro interventions: the “Sextuplication” and “Quadruplication”. In particular, the “Sextuplication” of the Principe–Brignole section involves the extension of the existing C. Colombo and S. Tomaso galleries to create a new Ge. Principe–Ge. Brignole itinerary dedicated exclusively to metropolitan-regional traffic.

The “Quadrupling” of the Ge Voltri–Ge Sampierdarena section, rather, counts four tracks – two of which are for metropolitan and regional traffic along the current route of the coastal line and two for long-distance trains (freight and passengers), achieved with the completion of the Voltri link road and its entry near the Sampierdarena station. This will also facilitate a direct connection to the Terzo Valico dei Giovi for incoming or outgoing freight at the Port of Prà Voltri.

For the environment 

Governance of the correct construction of the work in environmental terms is carried out by the Ministry of the Ecological Transition through two bodies:

  • the Osservatorio Ambientale (Environmental Monitoring Centre, OA) which looks at the construction of the work from an environmental point of view and the impact on the land, overseeing environmental monitoring and showing every initiative that it feels useful and necessary;
  • the Commissione Speciale di Verifica dell’Impatto Ambientale (Special Commission to Check on Environmental Impact) which carries out institutional checks (VIA, PUT [VG1] etc.).

The ARPA (Regional Agencies for the Protection of the Environment) also play a technical-scientific supporting role to the OA and its special issue working groups and since 2017 ARPA are full members of OA. Specific conventions signed with the RFI set out the contribution the company makes to ARPA work on checking the correct implementation of environmental monitoring (also through on site inspections and parallel sampling, as well as through suggestions for possible integration or additional activity and/or corrective measures to implement in cases of criticality).

Amongst the areas of commitment to protect the environment, of particular relevance are those relating to:

  • reuse of excavated material: material which is not classed as refuse will be partially reused in construction of the new line, and in part is to be used on environmental reclassification particularly of digging sites which are no longer in use. Where logistical conditions allow, conveyor belts have been planned for to take excavated material directly to the site to be restored, avoiding road transport. That is the case, for example, of earth excavated from two of the “windows” in the Valico Tunnel: that leaving the Cravasco window will be taken directory to the Castellaro quarry, which is located on the other side of the valley, while the earth from Vallemme window will be moved to the former Cementir quarry, which is situated right in front of the opening of the window itself.
  • asbestos: if asbestos is found in excavated material, special procedures will be activated, defined by the Management Protocol of Asbestos Risk for the Terzo Valico – written by the Environmental Monitoring Centre's Asbestos Working Group and also signed by the Regions of Piedmont and Liguria and the Provinces of Alessandria and Genoa.
  • Hydro-geology: the Environmental Monitoring Centre, with the backing of the Liguria and Piedmont Regions, has set up a special Hydro-geology Working Group which has undertaken research on the streams which are present and those that are at risk of running dry. On this basis it has set down some corrective measures in the way the work will be carried out, and also monitoring procedures for the quality of the water points before, during and after construction work;
  • noise: noise-absorbing/reflecting barriers will be set up to mitigate acoustic impact of sections in the open of the new line.
Infographic: The new Terzo Valico Line