Costs of TAV set to hugely outweigh benefits

The high-speed rail link has divided Italy's government

ROME - The the current net economic value of the controversial TAV Turin-Lyon high-speed rail link has a negative cost-benefit balance of some seven to eight billion euros, according to a much-awaited new analysis published Tuesday by the transport and infrastructure ministry.

 Despite the benefits of increased rail freight traffic and a rise in national and international passengers that the line would bring, the profitability analysis is negative. This will undeniably have a bearing on whether or not the Italian government decide to press ahead with the project.

 Even with the proposal of the so-called mini-TAV, which would cut an Italian section of the line between Avigliana and Orbassano, the project would still have a negative cost-benefit balance of between 6 and 7 billion euros.

 This is an option that the League has unsuccessfully attempted to propose to the Five Star Movement to prompt them to consent to going ahead with the line. However, although the costs could be reduced by some 1.7 billion euros by cutting that link, so would the benefits.

 The dossier, entrusted by the Minister of Transport Danilo Toninelli to a team of five experts led by the economist Marco Ponti, has been handed over to Deputy Prime Ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio.

 M5S members Toninelli and Di Maio have long been opposed to the project due to its cost and environmental impact. However, Salvini has said the TAV should go ahead given the penalties and reimbursements that Italy would be forced to pay if the project were abandoned.

 “As everyone can see for themselves, the numbers for the economic and transport analysis are extremely negative, merciless, I'd say,” said Toninelli.“I want to say clearly that the negative assessment of the Turin-Lyon is not against the EU or against France,” he added.