Around a thousand industrialists, politicians, and trade unionists held a hastily arranged meeting in Turin on Sunday to show their backing for the planned TAV or high-speed rail link between Italy and France.
The gathering was triggered by a widely supported demonstration held 24 hours earlier by those who do not want the link and are determined to stop it.
Sergio Chiamparino, Turin’s mayor said:
“The minority has the right to protest, even when it is used as a pretext and in a prejudicial way. It can’t anyway claim to put a veto (on the project), because in a democracy, on such matters there’s no right of veto.”
More than 20,000 people attended Saturday’s protest in Susa, on the Franco-Italian border. They are against the plan which will connect Italy’s Turin with Lyon in central France. Their main objections are on environmental grounds.
But those who support it say the high speed connection will slash an overall travel time between Paris and Milan to just four hours from the current seven.
The project is part of the EU’s Transeuropean Transport Network which has so far cost 15 billion Euros. France and Italy signed the deal in 2001 but since then opposition has grown particularly on the French side over the inevitable social and ecological impact.