Berlin–Palermo railway axis
The Berlin–Palermo railway axis is project No. 1 of the Trans-European high-speed rail network (TEN-R), which involves the creation of a 2,200-kilometre-long (1,400 mi) high-speed rail line between Berlin and Palermo. It is designated as one of the main transport links connecting Central and Southern Europe, tracking through Germany, Austria and Italy.
Course and sections
From Berlin the line will run to the Central German Metropolitan Region of Halle/Leipzig, to Erfurt and to Southern Germany at Nuremberg, Ingolstadt and Munich. Crossing the border with Austria, it will continue through the state of Tyrol along Kufstein, Wörgl and the capital Innsbruck. It will enter Italian South Tyrol, passing Franzensfeste and Bolzano, run through Northeast Italy via Verona and Bologna, through Central Italy along Florence and Rome, and reach Southern Italy at Naples and finally shall ferry over to Messina and Palermo on Sicily.
The corridor begins at Berlin Central Station opened in 2006 and runs via the rebuilt Anhalt Railway (up to Bitterfeld) and Dessau–Leipzig railway to Leipzig Central Station. The line shall continue to Erfurt Central Station on the Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle high-speed railway, which is currently under construction with the opening scheduled for 2015. Likewise, the southern continuation of this route along the Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway is due to be completed in 2017.
In the meantime, service is provided by tilting ICE T trains running on sections of the Leipzig–Großkorbetha railway, the Thuringian Railway, and the winding Saal Railway via Jena Paradies station, bypassing Erfurt on their way from Leipzig to Nuremberg Central Station. From Saalfeld station they cross the Rennsteig ridge of the Franconian Forest via the Leipzig–Probstzella railway and the Franconian Forest Railway and continue along the Bamberg-Hof railway (from Hochstadt-Marktzeuln) and the Nuremberg–Bamberg railway
Further to the south, the corridor runs via the Nuremberg–Munich high-speed railway line opened in 2006 to Munich Central Station passing Ingolstadt Central Station. The following section of the Munich–Rosenheim railway has already been upgraded to four-tracks up to Grafing station in order to separate mainline and suburban traffic. Finally the Rosenheim–Kufstein railway runs to the Austrian border and Kufstein station.
The heart of the Austrian section is the New Lower Inn Valley railway. In particular in the section between Wörgl and Baumkirchen is the most congested line of the whole TEN-network. This congestion is a result of the Austrian national east-west traffic and the international north-south traffic sharing the same line. The largest part of the new Lower Inn Valley railway is already under construction (Kundl– Baumkirchen) and the shorter section between Kundl and Kufstein (or Brannenburg in Bavaria) is being planned. After the completion of the Austrian section trains will be able to operate at up to 250 km/h. In Baumkirchen, new high-speed curves link with the Innsbruck bypass including the Inn Valley tunnel (German: Inntaltunnel), which is already in operation, but still needs to be upgraded for passengers and connected with the existing line to Innsbruck station. The Inn Valley tunnel will connect directly with the future Brenner Base Tunnel, the southern entrance of which leads to the Brenner Railway. The combined Inn Valley and Brenner Base tunnels will be the longest railway tunnel in the world (62.8 kilometres).
In recent decades, the following lines have been built or significantly upgraded in Italy:
- In 2009 work was competed on duplicating the Verona–Bologna line and upgrading it for 200 km/h speeds, including several deviations.
- The Milan–Bologna high-speed line (215 km) was opened on 13 December 2008.
- The Bologna–Florence high-speed line (78 km) was opened on 13 December 2009.
- The Florence–Rome high-speed line (254 km) was completed on 26 May 1992.
- The Rome–Naples high-speed line was partially opened on 19 December 2005 and completely on 13 December 2009.
- The Naples–Salerno high-speed line was opened in June 2008.
The former Berlusconi cabinet had announced that construction of a bridge across the Strait of Messina as a combined rail/road bridge with a length of 3.3 km will go ahead in 2010 and is scheduled to be completed 2016. An upgrade of the 400 km Salerno–Reggio Calabria line is also proposed to increase speeds and capacity. On Sicily the 230 km long Messina–Palermo railway to Palermo Centrale is being substantially upgraded.
On 20 July 2005, the European Union appointed coordinators for the five major trans-European rail transport projects to accelerate the realisation of these projects. It appointed the Belgian Karel Van Miert to coordinate the Berlin–Palermo rail corridor, who upon his death in June 2009 was succeeded by the Irish Pat Cox.
- "Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T): selection of projects for the TEN-T multi-annual programme 2007-2013 and the annual TEN-T programme 2007" (Press release). European Union. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
- "Map" (PDF). European Union. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
- Follain, John (8 March 2009). "Sicily to get longest bridge". London: The Times. Retrieved 8 March 2009.