The European Commission released on Dec. 5 1.7 billion euros (US$2.2 billion) to finance 11 big rail projects with the bulk going to the 63-kilometer (39 mile) Brenner tunnel linking Austria and Italy.
At a conference in Verona, northern Italy, the European Union's executive arm decided to help finance the 11 programs which mainly cover projects on the Berlin-Verona-Palermo and Lyon-Turin-Budapest rail routes.
The money is part of a budget of more than five billion euros for the 2007-2013 period which is supposed to be used to weed out bottle-necks and fill missing links in Europe's transport networks.
Nearly three quarters of those projects are rail infrastructure.
"Investing in key European transport infrastructure today is a demonstration that the European Union can respond to the economic crisis," said EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani.
Of the total funds approved Friday, 593 billion euros is slated for financing works on the Brenner base tunnel and a further 193 million euros is to be spent on studies for the tunnel.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008