Italy’s infrastructure minister expresses “disgust” at $26bn Lyons to Turin rail link

A plan to build a 270km high-speed rail link between Lyons and Turin has been denounced by Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s newly installed infrastructure minister and former leader of the 5 Star Movement in the senate.

Toninelli said on his Facebook page: "When I study files like that of Turin-Lyon high-speed link, I can only feel anger and disgust at how the money of Italian citizens has been wasted …  to favour the usual potentates, certain political-economic cliques and even organized crime."

The cost of the Treno Alta Velocità (TAV) project was originally put at €9.6bn, of which the EU was to have paid 40%, Italy 35% and France 25%.

Toninelli’s 5 Star Movement has long been an opponent of the Lyons-Turin link (Facebook)

But according to Toninelli, France’s Court of Auditors is predicting a cost of more than €26bn.

France and Italy signed a deal in 2016 to spend €8.4bn on the first stage of the work, and this has now begun.

Emmanuel Macron briefly put the scheme on hold after he became president last May, before declaring that both countries were "fully engaged" with it (see further reading).

However Toninelli said Italy had already begun "a serious project review" and a "rigorous cost-benefit analysis".

"It is the environmental, social and economic impact of this misbegotten line that will tell us whether it makes sense or not to carry on," he said.

The EU’s TENs network, with the Mediterranean corridor in green

If the project goes ahead, it will include the a 57.5km base tunnel through the Alps, the longest ever built for an intercity rail link. This makes up about a third of the projected cost.

The link is part of the EU’s Mediterranean Corridor that will eventually run between Spain and Ukraine.

Top image: Toninelli’s 5 Star Movement has long been an opponent of the Lyons-Turin link (Facebook)

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