The new government must start with transport to improve Italy

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In the last two years in Italy not even one kilometer of underground lines has been inaugurated, while the gap between Italian and European cities has increased, precisely where delays are most significant, i.e. the provision of metro, trams and urban railways for commuters. From 2002 to 2018, state funding rewarded investments in roads and highways by 60%. This is what is highlighted by the Legambiente Pendularia 2020 report.

Thus, between 2010 and 2018 almost 300 kilometers of motorways and over 2,000 kilometers of national roads were built, compared to just 91 kilometers of subways and 58 kilometers of tram lines. In light of this situation, the Next Generation EU could represent a turning point in sustainable mobility for rail transport, provided it is invested in three directions.

“Double the number of travelers on regional and underground trains by 2030, recover infrastructural delays in cities, enhance the service offer and electrify railway lines in the South” explains Legambiente, presenting the Pendolaria 2021 report two days after the formation of the new government. And expressing his position on the appointment of Enrico Giovannini as new Minister of Infrastructure and Transport: “An excellent choice, we are ready to make our contribution to sustainable development that looks at the country’s priorities”.

In urban areas we find a large part of the demand for mobility of people, with millions of commuters who move every day, mainly by car, and greater delays in terms of the possibility of moving by metro, tram, suburban trains compared to all other European countries . The good news is that before the lockdown there was an increase in movements on the urban rail network, signaling a willingness to change habits wherever the service is competitive, even better if integrated with sharing mobility services and cycle lanes. In Milan, as in Florence and Bari, Cagliari and Palermo, on some lines there is a European level service which shows that things can change. But, at the same time, shameful situations remain in Naples, on the Circumvesuvian lines, and in Rome on the trains managed by Atac, where in recent months the fear of contagion due to crowding has been added to the degradation of stations and trains and to the reduction of service. the lack of controls.

While the political debate to date has continued to focus attention on infrastructure, the situation in the cities has not changed. In the last two years (2019-2020) not even one kilometer of subway lines has been inaugurated in Italy. Unfortunately, the gap between Italian and European cities has increased, precisely where delays are most significant: the provision of metro, trams and urban railways for commuters. Therefore, infrastructural priorities must be changed. From 2002 to 2018, state funding rewarded investments in roads and motorways by 60%, while between 2010 and 2018, 298 km of motorways and 2,479 km of national roads were built, compared to just 91.1 km of subways. and 58.4 km of tram lines.

The other big delay is the infrastructural one that affects the southern regions and the integration of the different modes of transport (airports, ports, stations, interports). In the South we find fewer and slower trains in circulation, as well as the greatest number of single-track and non-electrified lines. Overall, it should be remembered that 56.3% of the 19,353 km of railway lines in Italy are single-track.

The good news comes from the renewal of the circulating train fleet: 757 new trains have been placed on the network by Trenitalia and other concessionaires, 704 those scheduled for the next few years. In addition, there are many urban areas where the number of people on trains, metro and trams is growing. To confirm that wherever people invest in quality and in new trains, people are happy to take advantage of public transport.

At the heart of the Recovery Plan, Legambiente emphasizes, mobility choices must be made for 2030 capable of accelerating decarbonisation and improving accessibility. In this sense, an important role must be played by urban areas, where more than two thirds of people’s movements take place. The goal must be to increase the number of trips per day on regional and underground trains, from the current 6 million to 10 million within the decade.

“All the pre-pandemic data confirm the desire of Italians to take trains, metro and trams, leaving the car at home. With the Recovery Plan we must accelerate this prospect through investments and reforms that can no longer be postponed, from the recovery of infrastructural delays in metropolitan areas to the electrification of railway lines in the South, to the strengthening of secondary national lines – emphasizes Zanchini – A change is possible, as confirmed the experiences and positive numbers recounted in recent years and observed everywhere a competitive alternative is offered to the millions of commuters who move every day in the cities, today mainly by car, thus helping both the economy and tourism “.

The investments to be pushed into the Recovery Plan – For Legambiente there are three priority objectives to be placed at the center of investments over the next ten years to relaunch sustainable mobility in Italy:

  1. Recovering infrastructural delays in metropolitan areas. If in the last two years no new km of metro lines have seen the light, little better has been done for trams, with 5 km inaugurated in 2019 and 5.5 in 2018.
  2. Electrify the railway lines in the South and strengthen the secondary national lines
  3. Complete the renewal and enhancement of the fleet. There are 2,767 regional trains currently in circulation, with a national average age dropped to 15.2 years, but which still remains very high in the South (19 years), especially compared to that of convoys in the North (11.7).

The scenario proposed by Legambiente to 2030 provides for a total investment of 13 billion euros for interventions on national and regional lines and 13.7 billion for those in cities, in addition to 5 billion for the renewal of the fleet. An investment framework that in ten years, including EU Next Generation, structural funds, national and regional investments, is absolutely within the reach of a country like Italy.

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