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EU high speed rail tunnel project between France and Italy facing uncertainties

Infra News - Published on Tue, 19 Feb 2019

Image Source: Seattle PI
AP reported that a strategic European Union project to build a high-speed rail tunnel through the Alps, meant to speed journeys between France and Italy, could dead-end as Italy’s populists squabble. On the French side, a 140-meter long rock-eating machine tunnels through the mountainside toward Italy at an average rate of nearly 20 meters a day. But on the Italian side, all is quiet: the construction site, long targeted by sabotaging protesters, is guarded by four law enforcement agencies, and work is limited to maintenance. The survival of Italy’s increasingly shaky populist government could well depend on whether Italy restarts construction on the Turin-Lyon High Speed Train link, which it halted last summer. One party in the ruling government coalition is fiercely against the project, while the other is for it.

Italy’s internal standoff - pitting the 5-Star Movement, which has taken a stand against big infrastructure, against its pro-business League coalition partner — means France could wind up with a tunnel to nowhere. The uncertainties are also increasing tensions with the European Union, which is paying for 40 percent of the EUR 8.6-billion project. The 57.5-kilometer long Turin-Lyon High-Speed Train tunnel link, known in Italy as TAV, is a key part of an EU project linking southern Spain with eastern Europe. It’s envisioned as one of six tunnels crossing the Alps, including the Gottard Tunnel in Switzerland, which opened in 2016, and the Brenner Tunnel between Italy and Austria, scheduled to open in the next decade.

The Turin-Lyon link replaces a tunnel built in 1871, which officials say is outdated in terms of technology and safety. High-speed trains must slow down to about 60 kph an hour - making the journey from Milan to Paris seven hours. With the TAV high-speed train tunnel, the journey will be cut down to 4 1/2 hours.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Tue, 19 Feb 2019
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