The Turin–Lyon high-speed railway is a planned 220 km/h railway line that will connect the two cities and link the Italian and French high-speed rail networks.
The segment is a priority infrastructure project of the European Union (EU), as the Turin–Lyon will form the cross-border segment of the axis connecting western Europe to the east completing the Trans-European Rail network by developing passenger and goods transport.
The Lyon-Turin section, entails the construction of a 57 km long cross-border base tunnel crossing the alps, starting at St Jean de Maurienne (France) and exiting in the Valley of Susa (Italy), which will be one of the longest train tunnels in the world. The project has been the source of heavy criticism and intense mobilization, especially concentrated in the Val de Susa but also across Italy under the banner of the No-TAV (Treno Alta Velocità) movement.
NO TAV main objections to the project look at the pattern of infrastructural and environmental planning at local and national level and at the environmental, energy and economic costs of the project compared to its claimed benefits. In addition to the impacts on the environment and health, the movement has focused on the unnecessary construction of the expensive high-speed line and the presence of illegal economic activities and loss of public money through corruption.
One of the prime strengths of the movement is that apart from reacting and opposing to the implementation of a project, it has been able to channel its energy into pro-active and propositional activities. At the local level by opening new sites of struggle in the valley (protests against the Beltrame steel plant and the enlargement of the Frejus tunnel). At the national level with the promotion of alliances with other local movements within the Patto di mutuo soccorso, a methodology of struggle based on principles such as mutual aid, information sharing and active solidarity. The No Tav movement has therefore managed to extend a struggle over territorial issues into a broader and more complex critique of the model of development, at the same time leading to experiments in new forms of democratic participation and new practices that refer to degrowth theory.
The conflict started in the 1990s when the TAV Turin-Lyon was developed and the first national march against High Speed happened in 1995. The movement has grown and strengthened considerably over the years receiving national and international support. In 1996, the Institutional Committee was founded, putting into practice the theory of participative democracy for the exchange of information and for decision-making especially in crisis moments.
After 2000, TAV promoters proposed, changed and passed preliminary projects, the EU categorized the TAV Turin-Lyon as a priority infrastructure project and strong protests arose, in particular contesting the assessment of impacts and the externalities of a new line. The escalation of the conflict increased even more with the initiation of geological soundings without local consultation. In 2005, around 50 000 inhabitants of the valley occupied the excavation site and set up permanents pickets, paralyzing all work until the demonstration was brutally broken up by the police forces. Despite a financial scandal in 2005 within TAV S.p.A., the EU granted in 2008 €671 million in funding studies and works for the project for 2007-2013, recently extended to 2015 but halved for delays in the execution of works. In spring 2011 was held a political meeting of local and national leaders to re-launch the project and to set the re-commence of works for the geognostic tunnel in June. These events stimulated another strong cycle of mobilization, violent repression, and an intensified criminalization of the NOTAV demonstrations that has seen numerous clashes between police and protesters, and hundreds of arrests in the last years, up to the latest in December 2013.