The controversial Turin-Lyon high-speed train project is back in the spotlight after elections in Italy and France reshaped the political forces both for and against the plans.
In Italy, the long-proposed TAV ("Treno Alta Velocita") has been given a boost by the strong performance of League at the polls.
Matteo Salvini’s party has long supported the new link and is ready to force its hand against coalition partner Five Star Movement, which opposes it.
And in Piedmont, centre-right candidate Alberto Cirio, a backer of the scheme, was elected president of the region.
France has long viewed the scheme more positively, but that is changing after the Greens became the third political force in the European elections.
The leader of EELV (Europe Ecologie Les Verts), Yannick Jadot, reaffirmed his opposition to the project. "It must stop. Today we cannot respond to the 67,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution by spending 26 billion euros on a potential result for the next 15 to 20 years,” he said. “ We call for the full use of the existing line, in good condition and that would create employment at the local level.”
Chambery vs Grenoble
The changing political landscape could call the whole project into question — again.
There are also conflicts at a local level, for example between Chambery and Grenoble in France.
The current scheme includes a diversion to bring passenger traffic to Chambery station, but not to Grenoble station. A French television documentary, Pieces, found that this addition to the original route added 1.6 billion euros to the cost.
In 2016, Grenoble's environmental mayor, Éric Piolle, backed down on his predecessor’s decision and withdrew the city’s €130m funding for the line.
Piolle says existing lines are underused and should be the focus of investment in order to reduce pollution.
Michel Dantin, Mayor of Chambery, said the new line was the only viable way of removing polluting cars and trucks from the Alps region.