Protest Against Italy's High-Speed Rail Line Leaves Dozens Hurt

Jun 27, 2011

Upset that a planned high-speed railroad line would disrupt their mountainous environment, around 2,000 demonstrators gathered late Sunday for a protest that erupted into violence early Monday. More than two dozen police officers were hurt, along with four protesters, according to reports.

The demonstrators say that the planned train line, and the extensive tunnels it requires, would damage the Susa Valley, near Turin. The plans call for drilling through nearly 33 miles of mountain. Monday's clash came as workers prepared to drill into the mountainside.

Here are more details, from Agence France-Presse:

Police in Turin said 25 officers were injured including four who were hospitalized, while the four injured demonstrators were treated on site.

Around 2,000 demonstrators took part in the torchlit procession through the valley on Sunday night.

"A group of opponents began attacking the police in a pretty violent way around 7:00 am, and the police responded by charging them," said Mario Virano, the government official in charge of construction of the Lyon-Turin train line.

He described the situation on the ground as "difficult".

Britain's Telegraph says that Italy has a lot to lose if they don't find a way to start work soon — the country would forfeit nearly $958 million if the delays continue past Thursday.

The rail line is part of an effort by Italy and France to shorten travel times between major cities. While the project being protested would connect Turin and Lyon, long-range plans call for trains that can get passengers from Milan to Paris in four hours or less.

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