France and Italy have signed an agreement to construct a high-speed rail link between Lyon and Turin.
The line, which is due to be completed in 2023, will cut travel time between Paris and Turin to four hours, compared to the current seven hours.
The 8.5 billion-euro project will be funded by France and Italy with the EU providing 40 per cent of the money.
The project has sparked outrage on the Italian side of the border where many claim traffic levels are falling and the construction will hurt the environment.
Italy’s Deputy Transport Minister Mario Ciaccia denies the claims and says the protests are “groundless.”
Last summer demonstrations against the rail link turned violent with hundreds of police and protesters injured in clashes.
Initial work began last summer in Italy’s Susa Valley amid a strong police presence.
Residents, environmental groups and 23 local mayors have joined forces to combat the construction and last week police moved in to detain 26 people in connection with last summers protest.