AUTOSTRADE PER L’ITALIA’S INVESTMENT AND MAINTENANCE PLAN FULLY OPERATIONAL. LAUNCH OF TRANSFORMATION INTO INTEGRATED MOBILITY PROVIDER
- Delivery of the network modernisation and expansion continues, with the focus on safety. €21.5bn to be spent on capital and maintenance expenditure in order to keep the infrastructure in optimum condition through to 2080.
- New corporate and organisational structure: subsidiaries Tecne, Free To Xperience, new Pavimental and new Autostrade Tech created to improve integrated management of the infrastructure lifecycle.
-Technological innovation and applied research given major boost to transform the motorway network into a “smart road”, increasing levels of road safety and user comfort. First services to be rolled out by mid-2021.
- Sustainability: installation of high-voltage charging stations throughout the Italian network to begin in February. Service and rest areas will be powered solely by self-produced green energy.
- Structural collaboration over the medium to long term with leading Italian universities regarding infrastructure management, innovation and research.
- New recruitment drive launched: 2,900 new jobs to be created by 2024 in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
Rome, Thursday, 21 January 2021. Integrated lifecycle infrastructure management using an industrial approach based on research, engineering and the construction, operation and maintenance of assets; a new organisational structure designed to transform or to create new subsidiaries (Tecne, Free To X, the new Pavimental, the new ASPI Tech) to oversee strategic growth plans; large-scale investment in sustainability (the installation of high-voltage charging stations for e-mobility and increased production of renewable energy) and technological innovation, providing digital services for travellers and boosting safety and road user comfort. Finally, one of the country’s largest ever recruitment drives will see the creation of 2,900 jobs for engineers, technicians and researchers over the next 3 years.
These are the key components of Autostrade per l’Italia’s new Business Plan for the period 2020-2023, as drawn up by the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Roberto Tomasi. The aim is to ensure that the motorway operator can operate to the very highest standards and, at the same time, open up new business opportunities linked to engineering, innovation and urban mobility systems.
“Our Business Plan outlines and implements a new vision,” said the Company’s CEO, Roberto Tomasi. “On the one hand,” he continued, “we are building on our revolutionary new approach to managing the motorway network, implementing our country’s biggest maintenance and investment plan. This will enable us to radically modernise and reinvent the network, ensuring that it continues to be in optimum condition through to 2080. On the other hand, we are transforming what was a motorway operator into an integrated mobility provider at European level, where the infrastructure lifecycle, engineering and technological innovation, traffic management and customer services are managed synergistically and with close attention paid to sustainable development. In this way, we can also make our know-how, services and solutions available to large Italian and European metropolitan areas, leading to the creation of increasingly efficient and sustainable mobility systems. This is the challenge we have set ourselves: to optimise management of the infrastructure using the latest technologies, generating innovation and sustainable growth and creating stable, quality jobs that will benefit the country’s economy as a whole,” concluded Mr. Tomasi.
The initial period of implementation of the Plan has already led to a major turnaround of our network surveillance and monitoring activities, carried out by a consortium of internationally recognised independent companies under a long-term contract awarded following a European tender process. 19,000 inspections of bridges, viaducts, flyovers and tunnels were carried out in 2020 and “Argo”, an AI-based monitoring platform that is the first of its kind in Europe, was launched. Maintenance work amounting to €650m was also carried out, more than doubling the amount spent in the period 2017-18. The Company’s management team has undergone a significant revamp, with the acquisition of world-leading expertise in engineering, regulatory compliance and digital.
In terms of activities carried out under concession, the Business Plan envisages the delivery of €14.5bn in capital expenditure and €7bn in maintenance by 2038 (the date on which the concession expires), to be distributed throughout the main Italian regions served by the network. This volume of investment – carried out on the basis of a thorough in-depth assessment – will result in radically modernised motorway infrastructure, enabling us to ensure that the network continues to be in optimum condition through to 2080. Investment over the life of the Plan will generate around 10,000 new jobs throughout the economy. Stability and continuity of the Plan is dependent on the expected formal and final approval of the Financial Plan and agreements reached with the Government, the main aim of which is to guarantee optimal management of the infrastructure.
The Plan also sets out a new corporate and operational structure. This will result from the transformation or establishment of four new subsidiaries to oversee the Group’s strategic areas of business and to work closely together under an integrated approach:
- Tecne SPA is the Autostrade per l’Italia Group’s newly established engineering company, whose mission is to oversee implementation of the investment and maintenance plan through to 2038, carrying out design, project management and safety coordination activities. Tecne will also have “Technical Authorities”, whose purpose will be to conduct research and raise engineering standards. The company currently employs 500 engineers, a number that is due to rise to over 1,000 by 2023 following a national recruitment drive scheduled to take off in the coming days. Over the next three years, Tecne will become Italy’s most important provider of engineering services, also offering its expertise for sale in the external market.
- The new Autostrade TECH is Autostrade per l’Italia’s technology spinoff, the leading developer of digital, hi-tech solutions for infrastructure management in Italy and number three in Europe. Having developed the “Argo” monitoring platform in partnership with IBM and Fincantieri, Autostrade Tech aims to launch highly innovative projects that, over the next two to three years, will change the way motorways are used. The projects include new digital tollgates, active monitoring systems (for example, for dangerous goods or exceptional loads) and the vehicle-to-infrastructure communication protocols needed for digital motorways (“smart roads”).
A new “Innovation, Sustainability, Research and Development Committee” has also been set up. The Committee, whose members are leading experts and researchers from the academic and business worlds, is responsible for identifying and disseminating new strategies, ideas and solutions for the future of the infrastructure sector. The Committee is unique in Italy in the sector and will work closely with leading Italian and international universities and research centres.
- The new Pavimental is the company, until now controlled by Atlantia, that is now wholly owned by Autostrade per l’Italia. It plays a central role in the delivery of major works and in the maintenance activities envisaged by the Business Plan. It will focus on the application of sustainable technologies and construction practices, adopting all the circular economy best practices and becoming an integrated provider of construction and maintenance services. To handle the major works to be carried out in the next four years (including the Bologna Bypass and the Gronda di Genova, as well as the addition of third and fourth lanes to improve access to major cities), the company plans to create a total of over 1,000 new jobs.
- Free To Xperience is the new company responsible for developing new services for travellers: from handling dynamic pricing designed to take into account delays due to roadworks, digital and cashless payment systems at service areas, the management of sustainable mobility services and interconnections between the motorway network and major urban areas. Free To Xperience’s first step will be to rollout Italy’s most extensive network of high-voltage charging stations for electric vehicles on the motorway network. Between 4 and 6 multi-client charging stations are to be installed at each of the 67 stations on ASPI’s network, enabling users to rapidly charge their vehicles in just 15-20 minutes and to complete a long-distance journey in an electric car (for example, from Milan to Rome) in the same time it takes in a car with a traditional combustion engine. Installation of the charging stations is due to begin by the end of February. Free To Xperience will manage installation of the network of charging stations and all the related customer relationship systems.
In terms of sustainability, the new Plan also envisages the motorway network’s transformation into green infrastructure, by significantly increasing renewable energy production with the aim of covering over 25% of the Company’s own needs. To achieve this, photovoltaic capacity is to be doubled, thus providing green energy for all 240 stations and 204 services areas. In addition, the infrastructure’s energy efficiency will be improved by completing the planned replacement of lighting equipment, installing over 30,000 LED lamps in tunnels. This will lead to a significant reduction in electricity consumption and result in the best possible lighting and use of spaces within tunnels. Finally, the Plan envisages the launch of tree planting programmes for areas managed by the Group, with the aim of increasing green space on the Italian motorway network.
The Business Plan gives strategic importance to the rapid and full digitalisation of infrastructure management, with a major, highly innovative impact on traffic management and the customer experience. The introduction of new technologies will enable us to transform ASPI’s network into a “smart road”, where connected vehicles, infrastructure and road users will interact continuously with the aim of improving safety and comfort, as well boosting the quality of the services provided to customers. The following are some of the most important operational changes to be introduced from as early as 2021:
- Motorway and traffic management
A system for predicting traffic flow to enable road works to be planned so as to reduce the impact on traffic. Go-live by mid-2021.
Real-time monitoring and alerting systems in the event of motorway disruption (for example, following an accident) to enable immediate action to be taken and the problem to be rapidly resolved. Go-live by the end of 2021.
- Customer experience
Intelligent Service Areas, with new services such as digital car park management, the pre-order of food, attractions and areas of interest along the journey, etc. Go-live by mid-2021.
New digital customer communication channels to meet all their travel needs, including a “Virtual Agent”. Go-live by the end of 2021.
Implementation of the Business Plan has been and will continue to be accompanied by the recruitment of new personnel to work in engineering, digital services, research and customer relations (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). This has led to the creation and launch of a recruitment drive which will result in the creation of 2,900 jobs by 2024. The development of talent and human capital is crucial to the Plan’s success. People will be hired to work at the main offices of ASPI and its subsidiaries throughout Italy, with recruitment carried out in partnership with Italy’s leading universities, including the Polytechnic of Milan, the Polytechnic of Turin and Rome’s Tor Vergata University.