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NO-TAV movement against High Speed Train, Val di Susa, Italy


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.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:NO-TAV movement against High Speed Train, Val di Susa, Italy
State or province:Province of Turin, Piedmont
Location of conflict:Val di Susa and Val Sangone mountain community
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Land acquisition conflicts
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The high-speed line Turin-Lyon is a key element of the European Priority Project TEN-T n° 6 and part of the Mediterranean Corridor that will link the Iberian peninsula to the Ukrainian border.

The initial program intended to link Lisbon to Kiev but Portugal and Ukraine pulled out of the high speed line project.

The TAV Turin-Lyon, totalling 235km, is divided into 3 segments: The French one managed by Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) would go from Lyon to St Jean de Maurienne, will consist of a mixed line for freight (120 km/h) and passengers (220 km/h). The international section, with Lyon Turin Ferroviaire (LTF), an Italo-French company in charge, would connect St Jean de Maurienne, France, by a 57 km tunnel to Susa, Italy. The Italian section, under the control of the Italian railway network company Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) will connect Susa to Turin via a series of tunnels openly-dug or concealed with man-made hills.

The TAV project proposals have evolved and expanded for almost two decades.

Main project steps:

•In 2001 France and Italy ratified an international agreement for the construction of the Lyon-Turin railway connection;

•In 2006 the TAV Turin-Lyon Observatory was created to assess feasibility and evaluate alternative proposals. The last planning agreement it presented, recommended a slight reduction of land use for the construction of the line and changed the entrance and exit of the international tunnel, enlarging it by some kilometres to end up with a 57 km tunnel.

•In December 2008, the European Commission decided to reserve €671.8 million for studies and preliminary works on the Italian-French common section for the 2007-2013 period (later extended to 2015 for delays in the execution of works). The payment of these funds dependes on the capability of both beneficiaries to respect the project deadlines indicated in their submission for TEN-T co-financing.

•In 2011, the Italian Comitato Interministeriale per la Programmazione Economica (CIPE) approved the Preliminary Project, which had paved the way for work to start at La Maddalena and the future design works for the access routes on the Italian side. The actual project will be implemented in phases in order to reduce costs. This means that on the Italian side, in the first phase only the base tunnel, the Susa station and a short stretch (2 km) of the Orsiera tunnel will be built.

•In 2012 France and Italy reinforced their commitment to the project by signing, an amendment to the 2001 Treaty of Turin. This new agreement established the relative share of the costs between France and Italy (base tunnel: 42% paid by France and 56% by Italy and support by EU funding). Italy ratified the agreement in April 2014.

•In 2012 started the excavation works at the "La Maddalena" access tunnel site for the international section

•In March 2013 the EU Commision adopted a revised funding decision due to the dalays in the execution of works. The decision provides for a co-funding amounting for preliminary works to €395.2 million.

The project for the Italian section is still in its preliminary phase. The planning and cost of works of the national segments are still uncertain.

The Level of investment is provisional, uncertain and constantly growing. Costs of investment and maintenance are unclear. The estimate cost of the base tunnel of the international section is 8,5 billion€ divided between the two countries and the EU should finance the 40% of the amount. The preliminary project presented by Italy presented a cost of 4,4 billions € but datas are still uncertain. The france section is expected to cost between 11 and 14 billion€. The total cost prevision reached 25 billion €.

Project area:235 km [railway line length]
Level of Investment for the conflictive project34,050,000,000.00 USD [25,000,000,000.00€]
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:114,223[population of the Val di Susa and Val Sangone mountain community]
Start of the conflict:1990
Company names or state enterprises:Geomont fondazioni speciali s.r.l. from Italy - Geognostic surveys and special foundation
Cooperativa Muratori & Cementisti (Gruppo CMC) from Italy - Construction
Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) from Italy - Management of the italian railway infrastructure
STRABAG (STRABAG) from Austria - Constructions
COGEMA from France - Excavations
Bentini Spa from Italy
GEODATA Engineering from Italy - Geoengineering design
Réseau ferré de France (RFF) from France - Management of the french railway infrastructure
Lyon Turin Ferroviaire (LTF ) from Italy - General contractor [binational association, main office in Chambéry, Francia; scondary office in Torino, Italy]
Relevant government actors:Province and city of Turin, the Piemonte Region, the Italian government, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, TAV Turin-Lyon Observatory
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Controsservatorio Valsusa ETINOMIA ethical entrepreneur for defend the common,National Federation pro natura Piemonte, local Green Party, Five Star Movement, Left Ecology Freedom party, Communist parties, Legambiente, Chiesa Valdese, Arci ValleSusa

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Recreational users
Religious groups
Local ejos
Social movements
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Industrial workers
Informal workers
Forms of mobilization:Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Property damage/arson
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Refusal of compensation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Media based activism/alternative media
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Appeals to the European Parliament; The Controsservatorio Valsusa, association constituted in early 2014, presented in April 2014 a petition to the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal (an indipendent international opinion tribunal which examines and provides judgements relatives to violations of human rights and rights of peoples) The petition denounces the violation of local citizens fundamental rights (right to health, right to environment, right to a decent living standard, right to information, right to partecipate in decision that affect your life); Promotion of alliances with other struggles and local movements in Italy and Europe (especially with other countries concerned by the high speed lines) through the promotion of conferences, national demonstrations, camping


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Noise pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsThe mountains where the tunnel will be implemented contain uranium and asbestos that would be released into the atmosphere during the works. The extraction of uranium from the Ambin mountain range could expose workers and the local population to radiation and therefore to tumours and leukaemia.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Land dispossession


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
In the '90s during the first wave of arrests, two activists, Edoardo Massari e Soledad Rosas, were jailed accused of sabotage to TAV project, the two died in prison suicides.
The ongoing repression of the No TAV movement includes more than one hundred cases with almost one thousand different defendants and charges, including accusations of sabotage and attack with terrorist purposes.
In early 2012 the italian low “Legge di stabilità” defined the work sites of the project as an area of strategic national interest, protected by military forces and with special measures for those who enter illegally in the area.
In 2013 started the ongoing MAXI Process against 52 NOTAV accused for the events which occurred in clashes with police during protests in June and July 2011.
Recent arrests date back to December 2013 when four NOTAV were arrested by the Prosecutor of Turin, who accused them of “actions aimed at a terroristic attack” for having taken part to an action against the project construction site in May 2013. The Supreme Cassation Court of Italy rejected the accusation but protesters are still in prison waiting for the process.
Proposal and development of alternatives:Freights and passengers could be transported using the existing railway line, the Frejus international railway, crossing the Susa Valley and connecting Turin to Lyon, recently renewed and improved (2002-2010) but up to now used for less than a quarter of its capacity.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The No TAV movement has extended in popularity and geographical spread in Italy and other European countries in the years and raised attention at National and European level on the environmental and economic controversies of a big infrastructural project.
NO TAV has tried to draw attention to the lack of a proper EIA, lack of consultation with local communities and poor project planning. Their criticisms have been based on solid argumentation and scientific research. The strength of the movement stems from its capacities for network organization, multi-sectorial collaboration and research, which enabled credible alternative proposals.
Presently the geognostic tunnel is under construction and protests to stop the project are still ongoing.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[2]Relazione speciale 10/2020: Infrastrutture di trasporto dell’UE: per realizzare in tempo gli effetti di rete, è necessaria una maggiore velocità di attuazione dei megaprogetti

[10]Sentenza Tribunale Permanente dei popoli 41. Diritti fondamentali, partecipazione delle comunità locali e grandi opere. Dal Tav alla realtà globale (Torino, 5-8 novembre 2015)

[21]LEGGE 27 settembre 2002, n. 228

Ratifica ed esecuzione dell'Accordo tra il Governo della Repubblica italiana ed il Governo della Repubblica francese per la realizzazione di una nuova linea ferroviaria Torino-Lione, fatto a Torino il 29 gennaio 2001.;228

[23] COMITATO INTERMINISTERIALE PER LA PROGRAMMAZIONE ECONOMICA DELIBERAZIONE 18 novembre 2010 . Programma delle infrastrutture strategiche (legge n. 443/2001). Nuovo collegamento internazionale TorinoLione: cunicolo esplorativo de La Maddalena. Approvazione progetto definitivo e finanziamento. (Deliberazionen. 86/2010).

[24]Accordo tra il Governo della Repubblica Italiana e il Governo della Repubblica Francese per la realizzazione e l'esercizio di una nuova linea ferroviaria Torino-Lione

[27]Attività parlamentare XVII legislatura in merito alla linea Torino-Lione


[34]Petizioni inviate al Parlamento Europeo – Petitions sent to the EU Parliament n. 949/2003 – n. 523/2004 – n. 198/2005 – n. 786/2007 – n. 900/2007 – n. 735/2008

LEGGE 12 novembre 2011, n. 183. Provisions for the preparation of the italian State annual budget

LEGGE 23 aprile 2014, n. 71. Ratification and implementation of the Agreement between Italy and France

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[19]Guido Rizzi, Keynes in Valsusa: possibili alternative alla nuova linea Torino-Lione, Politecnico di Torino

[20]TELT Il progetto e lo stato dell'opera, luglio 2018

[36]UNA GRANDE OPERA INUTILE 150 RAGIONI contro la Torino Lione, maggio 2012

[37]Massimo Zucchetti, Impatto ambientale e sulla salute del TAV, Politecnico di Torino,

AA. VV. (2002), Impatto sul territorio delle grandi infrastrutture di trasporto: Il caso del TAV Torino-Lione, Seminario del Torino Social Forum sul Piano Strategico 2000-2010 per Torino - 20 febbraio 2002.

Prud'homme R. (2007), Essai d'analyse de l'utilité sociale du tunnel Lyon-Turin, Université Paris XII

The Handbook: Ecological Economics from the Bottom-Up. Chapter 2: HIGH SPEED TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE (TAV) IN ITALY

Railway Related Impacts:the Turin-Lyon High-Speed Rail Case.M. Clerico,L.Giunti,L.Mercalli, M. Ponti, A. Tartaglia, S.Ulgiati,M. Zucchetti, Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Fresenius Environmental Bulletin (in print, 2014)

Profanazioni No-TAV. Riappropriazioni del comune e processi di soggettivazione, di Emanuele Leonardi, Federico Chicchi, 2008.

Network Rail, 2009. New Lines Programme. Comparing the Environmental Impact of Conventional and High Speed Rail.

Presidiare la democrazia - Controsservatorio Valsusa, Petition to the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, April 2014

EC (European Commission) White Paper - Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system Brussels

Stop That Train! Ideological Conflict and The Tav. Lucie Greyl, Hali Healy, Emanuele Leonardi, Leah Temper. Special Issue “Transport Economics and the Environment” of the Journal “Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment”, 2012.

[4]MARIO BONTOSI CAVARGNA, Storia dei NoTav del 1996: la prima marcia a Sant’Ambrogio, L'Agenda, 23 febbraio 2020

[5]Elena Falco, Storia del Movimento No Tav dal 2005 al 2011: cronologia essenziale, Torino Today, 24 maggio 2011

[6]No Tav, manifestazione pacifica in Val di Susa, Sky tg24, 30 luglio 2011

[7]Meo Ponte, Protesta No Tav, un giorno di guerriglia rovina la marcia pacifica dei valligiani, La Repubblica, 3 luglio 2011

[8]No Tav e vendetta di stato: 140 anni di condanne,, 27 gennaio 2015

[9]Sostieni la cassa di resistenza No Tav, NoTav.Info, 13 ottobre 2020

[11]No Triv e No Tav protestano a Venezia durante il vertice Italia-Francia. Scontri con la polizia, Il Fatto Quotidiano, 8 marzo 2016

[12]Contro Vertice No TAV Italia-Francia in Val Susa 5 marzo 2016,, 2 Marzo 2016

[13]Festival ALTA Felicita’ – 22/24 luglio 2016 Venaus- Valsusa,, 16 Maggio 2016

[14]8 dicembre notav: 70’000 in marcia a Torino,, 8 Dicembre 2018

[15]Antonio Palma, No Tav, maxi processo da rifare: Cassazione annulla le sentenze per 26 imputati, Fanpage, 27 aprile 2018

[16]No Tav, dalla Cassazione clamorosa smentita del teorema torinese,, 28 Aprile 2018

[17]Dosio, la sentenza della Cassazione, Ansa, 1 gennaio 2020

[18]Nicoletta è libera!,, 14 novembre 2020

[22]Storia del progetto, Comune di Rivalto

[25]Tav, lavori in ritardo: stop ai finanziamenti Ue,, 16 Ottobre 2014

[26]Maria Chiara Voci, Il costo della Tav sale a 12 miliardi, Il Sole24Ore, 24 ottobre 2014

[28]Vertice Renzi-Hollande a Venezia per Valeria, i No Tav scaldano i motori: "Noi ci saremo", Venezia Today, 8 marzo 2016


[31]COMPLETATI I PRIMI 9 KM DEL TUNNEL DI BASE. Sito TELT, 23 settembre 2019



[35]Impatto ambientale della Nuova Linea Ferroviaria Torino-Lione, Team Giornalistico Valle Susa

[38]Torino 11 luglio 1998, muore Maria Soledad Rosas “Sole”, Osservatorio Repressione

[39]Controsservatorio Valsusa

[40]Esposto del Controsservatorio Val Susa al Tribunale Permanente dei Popoli

[41]Controsservatorio Valsusa - Aggiornamento tribunale permanente

[43]Cesare, Alice e Umberto fuori dal carcere!, InfoAut, 11 dicembre 2017

LTF Official website

TAV Turin-Lyon Observatory website

Italian government website

European Commision, Mobility and Transport

NOTAV websites -



Controsservatorio Valsusa

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[1]Podcast Corte dei Conti

[3]Roadmap TELT storia della linea Torino-Lione

[42]No Tav, Erri De Luca assolto, Tg La7, youtube

Meta information

Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1260



NOTAV flag


NOTAV demonstration


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Local population against TAV


NOTAV protests