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Beppe Grillo's Blog

Usefulness - The current international line between Turin and Modane is used at 30% of its actual capacity and the motorway is used at less than 50% capacity.
Traffic forecast - Up until now the traffic forecasts made by the project workers have turned out to be erroneous. They are based on the concept of infinite growth that says that for every extra point of GDP, there'll be a growth in traffic of 1.4 points. According to the estimates, the current line should be saturated already by this year. This has not happened. Growth still does not exist and goods transport decreases constantly and consequently the need for transport.
According to LTF {Lyon Turin Ferroviaire} the future line would find stability on its balance sheet with 40 million tons of transported goods a year. The current line can transport at least 20 million. Today 4.8 million are carried. Even by transferring all the goods currently transported on the motorways to the railways that would get to the utilization of the current railway of about 50% of its capacity.

Costs - Mauro Moretti , the CEO of Trenitalia has declared that the estimated cost of the line is 120 million per kilometre, that's 3 or 4 times more in relation to the average costs in France (see the article in "Il Sole 24 ore" on 13 January 2010). Furthermore, the estimated costs generally increase 2 to 3 times by the end of the work. Italy has also signed up to an economic agreement by which 65% of the international part would be charged to our country.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 at 08:07:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the current line should be saturated already by this year. This has not happened. Growth still does not exist

We are in a recession, which hit the kind of transports in which rail has the highest share the hardest... The growth estimates fit growth in the time before on other transalpine routes. And it's not just GDP growth (the assumed infinite continuation of which is rightly challenged): note that traffic grew/shall grow further on the long term because of increased cross-border flows in the EU's common market (which is still relatively young and growing together).

The current line can transport at least 20 million. Today 4.8 million are carried.

Beyond the recession, that has something to do with a lack of policy to force traffic on the rails, e.g. the special transit or highway fees imposed on truckers in Switzerland. Another factor is that the current mountain line is slow. Yet another factor is that the line also carries passenger traffic, for which its slowness is even more critical.

Mauro Moretti , the CEO of Trenitalia has declared that the estimated cost of the line is 120 million per kilometre, that's 3 or 4 times more in relation to the average costs in France

I have no clue what average costs Moretti or the journo are refering to. There aren't any other new rail lines with large tunnels in France to make an average of. If he refers to high-speed lines, France's average is even lower (more like a sixth), but that wouldn't be a fair comparison.

In addition, it's not clear whether €120 million per kilometre is for the entire line, or just the 52 km main tunnel. If the latter, we can take a fair comparison: the Gotthard Base Tunnel, 57 km for CHF 9.645 billion = €6.55 billion, that's €115 million per kilometre. If the entire line, even considering that a good portion of the Turin-base tunnel section is in tunnels, €120 million per kilometre is too high (those tunnels are shorter and geologically less challenging).

:: :: :: :: ::

As a general comment on this anti-TAV movement, which goes on there for almost a decade now. From the distance and across the language barrier, I'm not sure what is at its origin. It appears to have emerged locally and as a genuine civic movement, not a truckers' self-defense movement like in Greece or some astroturfing. (Then again, the truckers angle should still be discused: Italy has many trucking companies which form a strong lobby; in the battle Austria lost for limiting truck traffic volumes across the Brenner pass, the EU Commission defended their interests.)

But a line hiding mostly in tunnels, and with a potential to reduce noisy truck traffic on the parallel highway, shouldn't be seen negatively in itself -- indeed I haven't heard anything similar for the Unterinntalbahn doubling near Innsbruck in Austria (which is similar to the protested Turin to base tunnel section). But, for locals, there is also: construction taffic, as well as geotechnical mistakes during construction leading to subsistence or loss of water table. TAV has a history of such mistakes, so maybe the original issues were something like this? Or, was the fear of noise from the non-tunnel sections first?

At any rate, they way I see it, this is now a grown and politicised 'issue', in which people (including Beppe Grillo) argue from within frames that were developed and hardened for years. E.g. every news about the line is interpreted in the context of another senseless megalomaniac construction project, and there is no serious look beyond Italy or a serious consideration of how to shift cargo from road to rail.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 08:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, Dodo, you're amazing. that certainly adds perspective. would you mind if i quoted you?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 09:20:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but again, I said all this based on scant information, without knowing the positions of No TAV in-depth :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 at 04:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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