High speed rail project gains support of Italian Prime Minister

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By Marina Jenkins  & Giorgia Orlandi
High speed rail project gains support of Italian Prime Minister

The Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, has confirmed his support for the high-speed rail project running between Turn and Lyon, known as TAV.

The 270km-long, high speed rail line will connect the two cities and run through the Alps.

But the project has been a great source of friction between the coalition partners of the Italian government. The League is in favour of moving forward with the construction plans. Whilst, the populist Five Star Movement has been pushing for its cancellation.

Conte said that the European Union (EU) has also offered to increase its contribution to cover 55% of total costs for the project, instead of the earlier agreed 40%.

On July 26th, the government will have to send an official response to the European Commission to say if they want to access the offered European Union funds to complete the project. They will have to be clear with their stance on the issue, and that could cause further tensions among the parties.

The campaign movement NO TAV is based in the Susa Valley in Piedmont. As well as the Five Star Movement, it opposes the creation of the high-speed track.

Its main motivation is they believe it is useless and not needed. The group believes its only purpose is for private companies to profit from it. NO TAV also believes the existing railway line between Piedmont and France is more than sufficient.

One man who can also see the potential downfalls of the project is Giuseppe Sappa. He is an Associate Professor in Engineering Geology at La Sapienza University in Rome.

Sappa understands the complexities of the project for both French and Italian workers who could be assigned to the project.

“There are many environmental and technical aspects we have to take into account. We must ensure the workers’ safety and the environment’s.

“It is necessary to share as much data as possible. To make sure people working on the project remain healthy and the environment is not damaged.”

It looks likely that Prime Minister Conte will accept the proposal. Stalling the project, in his view, could be costlier than completing it. The expiry deadline for Italy to accept the EU’s funding proposal is looming ahead and the EU awaits the verdict.

Journalist • Marina Jenkins