The President of the European Parliament has visited the site of an ambitious transalpine rail link between France and Italy, amid calls by one half of Italy’s coalition government to scrap the project.
The 270-kilometre high-speed line is due to link the French city of Lyon with Italy's Turin.
Originally slated to cost 9.6 billion euros, Italy's new Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli said estimates have soared to more than 26 billion euros.
Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement says the project is a waste of money.
But Antonio Tajani said ending construction work would be a huge mistake and would ''take Italy back to Medieval times’’.
‘‘We have to move forward,'' Tajani told Euronews. ''I hope that Vice Premier Matteo Salvini makes his voice heard and does not vote together with the 5-Star Movement for nefarious measures.''
Residents of Italy's picturesque alpine Susa valley have repeatedly protested against the rail link, saying it would cut through the heart of their community and destroy stunning countryside.
While the 5-Star Movement has long backed their cause, its government coalition partner, the League, has defended the project, saying it will help develop the Italian economy.