French police, protesters clash over Italy train project

French police used tear gas on Saturday as they clashed with protesters seeking to stop construction of a new high-speed train line between France and neighboring Italy which opponents argue will wreck the sensitive Alpine environment.

Some 5,000 protesters, according to organizers, and 3,000, according to police, turned out for the protests close to the village of Saint Remy-de-Maurienne in southeastern France in defiance of an official ban on the gathering, an AFP correspondent said.

Police then used tear gas when a faction of protesters began to hurl projectiles at security forces.

Protesters also stormed the nearby railway line, the AFP correspondent said, although train traffic had been halted due to the situation in the early afternoon, according to operator SNCF.

Supported by the European Union, the new line should eventually link France’s Lyon and Turin in Italy, with a 57.5-kilometre (36-mile) tunnel through the Alps.

The estimated cost is more than 26 billion euros (more than $28 billion).

Supporters say it will greatly ease freight road traffic but opponents say the ecological damage risks being devastating and that springs are already starting to dry up due to the works.

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