(Photo: notav, by debsilver). Wednesday, June 14th, a meeting between the Italian Governement, Piedmont region, Turin and Susa Valley's municipalities was held in Rome to debate on Tav Lyon-Turin, the projected high-speed rail between France and Italy (corriere.it). A good deal of people in Susa Valley and in Turin stubbornly oppose this project, while main local authorities, French and Italian governments support it.
The meeting established to abandon the old project made by Lyon-Turin Ferroviaire, while the Tav Observatory lead by Mr Mario Virano will define a new scheme. Besides, before July 23rd Italian Governement will apply to get a contribution by the European Union of about 1 billion of euros. Susa Valley's mayors, moreover, acknowledged the existence of a projected tunnel on the French side that will influence the Italian rail.
Being a rail generally supposed to reduce road traffic, why the Tav Lyon-Turin finds such a huge opposition? Susa Valley is 1.5 km wide: Dora river, a railway, a highway, two national roads and a high voltage power line go all through this narrow path. Moreover, Mount Musiné contains amiantus and Ambin Massif contains uranium: making new tunnels there could produce health problems for local communities and it may damage the environment.
Mr Pier Angelo Tartaglia of Turin Polytechnic, and member of the No Tav movement, asserts that the existent railway may has a capacity between 20 and 30 millions tons of freight per year. Nowadays the effective freight traffic is about 7 millions of tons per year, which is quite a good deal under the capacity limit. Besides, rail freight between France and Italy have been falling for forty years (Le Monde diplomatique).
Mr Rémi Proud'Homme of Paris XII University estimates that this project will cost 20 billion of euros. Moreover, it will increase national debts of France and Italy for at last 40 years (lavoce.info).
Are we in to repeat the story of Eurotunnel between France and England? Is another risk of bankruptcy going to come? Citizens will pay through taxes and national debt the construction of Lyon-Turin new railway, instead of financing new and more advanced industries: which companies will receive their money?
The lion's share of freight is concentrated on road traffic. As a consequence, instead of planning to spend such a huge lot of money to obtain certain costs and uncertain benefits, the first thing to do, as Switzerland has been doing for years, is to make rail freight grow, discouraging by law trucks road traffic. The Italian government said it will, by next autumn. But will Mr Romano Prodi's government resist in charge so long? The inhabitants of Susa Valley will wait without a shadow of a doubt: they'll do everything to protect their mountains.