First stretch of Rome's Metro C opens

Technical hitch on day of inauguration

The first stretch of Rome’s Metro C line was inaugurated on 9 November but a technical fault halted the inaugural train after just four stops, forcing passengers to disembark and wait 11 minutes for the next train. However the system was running smoothly by the time the mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino arrived at 10.00 for the inauguration ceremony at Pantano.

The eastern section metro line, which was launched after seven years of costly and controversial construction work, had been due to open on 11 October before running into delays which led to the mayor "occupying" the Italian transport ministry. The metro also made headlines after the storm on 7 November when the then-unopened Giardinetti and Grotte Celoni stations were flooded.

The long-awaited third underground railway line is driverless and its nearly 13-km route includes 15 stations on the easternmost section of the line, from Pantano to Centocelle. The first trains depart from either end of the line at 05.30 each day, running until 18.30.

The Metro C project, which was originally meant to run from Pantano across the historic centre of Rome to a new station near the Vatican and even beyond to Piazzale Clodio, has been beset with difficulties since it started in 1990. These have included funding overspends, lengthy delays and the abandonment of planned stations across the historic centre caused by the discovery of archaeological remains underground.

Italy's audit court recently accused the project's consortium of cost overruns that were neither accounted for nor agreed, on the Pantano-Centocelle section. The court said that over €360 million of public funds were wasted between 2006 and 2010, and that the system was "designed to reward delays." In 2012 the court's president Luigi Giampaolino said that Metro C seemed set to become “the most expensive and slowest public works project in Europe and the world.”

Since construction began 24 years ago, the cost of the project has risen from €1.9 to over €5 billion. Completion of the S.Giovanni-Fori Imperiali section is scheduled for September 2020.

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