Scuffles broke out at the start of a geological survey in the mountainous area of the Val di Susa to the west of Turin on Monday (31 Oct).

The survey followed European Union approval of a project for a new high-speed train track, which would link Turin to Lyon in France in one-and-a-half hours. Trouble flared between police and demonstrators worried about environmental damage in the area.

The Val di Susa is already an important link between Italy and France, with two major roads over the Moncenesio and Colle di Monginevro mountain passes, a motorway that links Turin to the Frejus road tunnel, which was closed for a couple of months after a fatal accident in the tunnel last June, and a railway line from Turin to Mondane in France, which runs through the Frejus railway tunnel built in the 19th century.

This new high-speed rail track would take 15 years to build and would include two tunnels, one 12 km long in Italy and one of 52 km between Italy and France. The project, which is expected to cost 13.5 billion, is part of a European high-speed train network from Spain to the Ukraine.