• protests against Italy - France high speed rail line

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Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by David Benton
Italy police, anti-train demonstrators clash

09.12.05 11.20am

SUSA, Italy - Protesters demonstrating against a planned high-speed rail link with France have clashed with police amid concern that anger over the project could mar the 2006 Winter Olympics in the northern area.

At least two policemen and one protester were reported injured in the clashes, in which police in anti-riot gear fired teargas to control one group of demonstrators.

Tens of thousands of protesters, arguing the link will harm the environment, had massed along Alpine roads in the Susa valley near Turin, the city that will be the main host for the February Games.

The valley is nestled near the Italian-French border, and connects the main venues for the Olympics.

The demonstration started peacefully but police then cordoned off the main road leading to the village of Venaus. Scuffles broke out when some protesters tried to push through.

Police used truncheons and tear gas to fight back around 100 activists who had entered a construction site near Venaus.

"They're hitting people. I'm a primary school teacher and I have always told children that Italy is a democracy - I can't say that any more," said Venaus resident Alan Bruno.

Waving flags and wearing woolly hats and thick jackets against the snow, the demonstrators vented their resentment at not being consulted over the plan.

They have taken to the streets in the past few weeks to protest against the rail link which includes long tunnels under the mountains.

Italian politicians say the link is vital for the area's economic development, binding the country into a transport network that stretches from Spain to Eastern Europe.

The head of the Games' organising committee said he hoped for a "truce" to prevent the demonstrations from marring the games.

"There are 190 countries that agreed to stop conflicts for the Olympic truce. I imagine this extends to this local conflict, which is a serious one," Valentino Castellani told daily Corriere della Sera.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has blamed the extreme left for the clashes, said there would be no turning back on the train link.


  by Charlie7
It's sad to see that NIMBYs are everywhere.

  by george matthews
Charlie7 wrote:It's sad to see that NIMBYs are everywhere.
I wonder how they would like the road traffic that uses the motorway crossing points? Once operating, the electric railway will not fill their valleys with stinking exhaust.

After the Mont Blanc tunnel was closed dure to a fire the people of the valley demonstrated to stop it reopening.