Italy finally confirms support for €26bn Turin to Lyon rail link

The government of Italy has written to the EU to confirm that it will, after all, complete a €26bn rail link with France, according to David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament.

The plan to build a high-speed railway under the Alps has been the subject of a diplomatic row  between Turin and Lyon, with French president Emanuel Macron backing the scheme and one side of Italy’s coalition government, the Five Star Movement, criticising its cost and environmental impact.

In February of this year, Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s deputy prime minister and head of Five Star, said he would oppose the link, and Five Star infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli, commented on Facebook that he could "only feel anger and disgust at how the money of Italian citizens has been wasted". However, its partner in government, the Northern League, was in favour of the project, and it appears to have won the argument.

President Sassoli announced on Twitter over the weekend that the EU had received a letter from the Italian Ministry of Transport to say it would undertake the project, which will include a 58km tunnel under the Alps.

The letter follows a comment by Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister of Italy, that abandoning the Treno Alta Velocità link would cost Rome more than completing it.

The French side had approved the 270km project in September 2017. The EU had given Italy a deadline of the 26 July to say whether or not it would support the project.  

The EU is to meet 40% of the cost since it would be part of its Mediterranean Corridor. It will allow heavy freight trains to get from the north to the south at speeds of up to 100km/h, while passenger trains will run at 220km/h, cutting more than two hours off travel times. Italy is to contribute 35% and France 25%.

Image: Mountains near Turin, Italy (Nostromo-io/Public domain)

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