Rome, Feb 27 (IANS/AKI) Construction of a controversial high-speed train tunnel linking Italy and France will go ahead once the 8.6 billion euro project has been “re-examined and fixed”, Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini has said.
“An agreement on the TAV will be reached. The project can be re-examined and fixed,” Salvini told Italian public broadcaster Rai Radio 1, referring to a high-speed rail link between Turin and the French city of Lyons.
“Travelling by train is certainly much better and less polluting than by road,” he added.
Salvini decried Italy’s creaking bureaucracy “that has held up progress in this country for 30 years” and vowed the populist government would re-start building work currently on hold at “too many” sites across Italy.
While Salvini and his League party wants the TAV train tunnel to be built, its coalition partner, the grassroots 5-Star Movement’s leader Luigi Di Maio and Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli have long opposed it on cost and environmental grounds.
The Italian parliament passed a motion committing the government to “totally rediscuss” the TAV project, a move seen as an attempt to postpone any definitive decision until after European parliamentary elections in May.
Italy’s Transport Ministry earlier in February issued a cost-benefit analysis on the TAV which branded the project a waste of public money, saying it would have a “strongly negative” financial return.
France and the European Union – which is paying for 40 percent of the 57.5-kilometre tunnel – could seek damages from Italy if the project is binned.
After taking power last summer, the populist government halted the project to build the tunnel which will cut the current 7 hour train journey from Turin to Lyon by 2.5 hours.