Fiasco looms for the Lyon-Turin alpine rail project

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The project launched in 2001 to build a high-speed rail link between the southern French city of Lyon and the northern Italian city of Turin, via what is now to be a 57.5 kilometres-long tunnel under the Alps as its centrepiece, is facing mounting opposition from environmentalists and inhabitants of the Maurienne valley in France and the Susa valley in Italy through which the link will pass. The project for the rail link, estimated to cost a total of 26 billion euros, now faces serious legal challenges in France, amid spiralling costs and hesitations over its funding which have drawn sharp criticism from bodies that include France’s national audit court. Jade Lindgaard reports.

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During his trip to the alpine Savoie region in eastern France in January, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe made no public mention of the 26 billion-euro project to build a high-speed train linkup, via a new rail tunnel under the Alps, for passengers and freight traffic between the southern French city of Lyon and the northern Italian city of Turin. It appeared as a significant omission by Philippe, just three months after President Emmanuel Macron’s confirmation, at a summit meeting with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Lyon last September, that the grand project will go ahead.