(CN) – The European Commission on Wednesday approved continued funding by France and Italy to develop a special train that will pull fully loaded semi trucks through the Alps.
The Commission first approved the project in 2003, but said technical and administrative problems have hampered its enactment. This final extension will facilitate the contract-bidding process but comes with the caveat of a June 30, 2013, deadline to award contracts, according to the commission.
France and Italy’s collaboration allows trucks to ride on special trains for 105 miles between Savoy and Piedmont through the Mont Cenis rail tunnel. The commission says that the innovation provides a credible alternative to road-only hauling through the treacherous Alpine region and reduces the impact of truck traffic on the environment.
Both France and Italy confirm that they will award contracts by the 2013 deadline, according to the commission.