Italy agrees to resume controversial Turin-Lyon high-speed rail link

Italy agrees to resume controversial Turin-Lyon high-speed rail link
By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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It's an ambitious and highly-controversial engineering project that involves finishing a near 60 kilometre-long tunnel under the Alps.


Italy has officially agreed to resume the building of the controversial Lyon-Turin high-speed railway link, which was first begun thirty years ago.

It's an ambitious engineering feat that involves finishing a 57.5 kilometre-long tunnel under the Alps to connect France and Italy.

The European Parliament president David Sassoli confirmed that Italy has written to the EU pledging to complete the rail link with France, which is partly funded by the EU

Sassoli said the letter was "good news".

The long-running saga, which has faced opposition from environmentalists and local communities, is splitting Italy's current coalition.

Read more: Thousands resume protests against Turin-Lyon high-speed railway link

Matteo Salvini's League party support the project but its governing party, the Five-Star Movement, opposes it.

Read more: Explainer on the controversial high-speed rail link between France and Italy

Last week, Italy's prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said that blocking work on it would cost Italy more than completing it.

Five-Star argues Italy should focus on upgrading the existing transport network.

Conte, who is not a member of either ruling party but is closer to the Five-Star, had in recent months raised doubts about the validity of the venture.

But last Tuesday he acknowledged a change of heart, saying it was due to new financial offers from both Brussels and Paris that had made the completion of the infrastructure cheaper for Italy.

Brussels announced it would increase its share of the funding from 40% to 55%.

It's expected to cost €26 billion to complete the link with the construction of the trans-alpine tunnel swallowing up €18.3 billion.

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