Clash over new high-speed rail tunnel in Italian Alps

06/27/2011 - 13:20


  Police have clashed with demonstrators in the Italian Alps over the construction of a new high-speed rail link with France. Tunnelling is set to start for a line from Turin to Lyon, which is expected to cut the travel time by nearly half. Local residents built barricades to prevent heavy machinery from starting work in the picturesque Val di Susa, in northern Italy. Police used fire hoses and tear gas to disperse them. The Italian government is determined to go ahead with the project, which is heavily backed by EU money, and has ordered work to go ahead despite environmental objections. Police had to escort the contractor's bulldozers to the high alpine site where work is due to begin. Demonstrators set on fire barricades erected to keep out intruders, but failed to halt the works. Map locating Val di Susa in northern Italy Earlier more than 3,000 people took part in a peaceful, candlelight prayer vigil through the night against the project. They fear that, despite safeguards built into the multi-billion euro project, an area of outstanding natural beauty is going to be spoilt.   CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO CLIP

Similar demonstrations and even sabotages have been taking place for years not only in Italy, but also in France and Spain concerning the construction of this type of train. Some of the opposing groups have strong political affiliations, nationalists and extreme left in general. Anyway, there will be clashes... but the line will be built, as it happens everywhere else.

I don't know anything about this particular project, but in general I have difficulty in condemning new rail links.  Anything that deters road and air travel would probably get my vote. Or put another way, I'd save my energies for campaigning against new Autostrade or airports. I appreciate I don't live int eh path of this particular rail link and don't know the environmental sensitivities involved, but the ecological footprint of train travel must be tiny in comparison to others.

I agree with Anne. A high speed train will cause much less pollution than other means of transport and would only bring benefits. Many projects are being opposed for political reasons which are hard to understand. Spain enjoys nowadays the largest network of high speed trains and they have changed the way people travel. Who would go from Madrid to Seville by plane or car when you can catch a high speed train from downtown Madrid and be in downtown Seville in 2 hours? It is just a matter of common sense.