Thousands protest against new high-speed trains in Europe | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 24.01.2010
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Thousands protest against new high-speed trains in Europe

Thousands of protestors took part in a demonstration near Italy's border with France against a planned high-speed train line.

Turin

Rail operators want to cut travel time to Milan by three hours

A convoy of tractors led a demonstration in Hendaye, southwestern France, to oppose additional construction of high speed train lines as activists in France urged European governments not to expand the network. Anti-LGV associations and Green associations had banners reading "Off my estate."

"There were at least 20,000 of us and there would have been many more had the police not slowed down traffic," Alberto Perino, the head of the No Tav (No to high-speed trains), told Italian media of the protest at Susa, near Turin.

France and Italy signed a deal in 2001 on building a new rail link, which is to be a strategic link in the European network and allow travel time between Milan and Paris to be slashed from seven to four hours.

The cost has been estimated at 15 billion euros ($21 billion) But residents of the Susa Valley have fiercely opposed the plan, saying the construction of tunnels would damage the environment.

In a separate protest, environmentalists from France and Spain held a similar demonstration against a planned high-speed line running through the Basque country.

They also launched the "Hendaye charter", after the French border town where the protest was held, which urges European governments not to build more such lines as they are not in line with "sustainable development".

The text, adopted by political movements from France, Spain and Italy, denounced these projects as "an ecological, socio-economic and human disaster."

nrt/dpa/Reuters/AFP

Editor: Mark Hallam

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