Clashes over Italian Alps rail link

by William ASTON on June 28, 2011

Police clashed with demonstrators yesterday over the construction of an Italian Alps high-speed rail link connecting the area with France.

Tunnelling will start for a line that runs from Turin to Lyon and it is expected to cut travel time by almost half. To prevent any heavy machinery from being able to start work in Val di Susa, a picturesque town in northern Italy, protestors built barricades. To disperse them, police used fire hoses, as well as tear gas.

Police were forced into escorting the contractor’s bulldozers onto the Alpine site where building work is set to begin. Although they failed to completely halt the works, demonstrators set fire to barricades that were meant to keep them out.

Despite environmental objections, Italy’s government is determined to press ahead with the project that has heavy backing from EU money and is set to cost around 15bn euros. If work doesn’t go ahead on June 30, the country risks losing hundreds of millions, a minister commented at the weekend.

Earlier, before the situation turned violent, 3,000 people participated in a peaceful, overnight prayer vigil set against the project. Paolo Ferrero, who is the secretary of the Communist Refoundation Party in Italy, told reporters how the majority of residents across the area are against the project and the damage it will cause to the environment and public finances.

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