February 3, 2019 / 12:51 PM / 7 months ago

MEDIA-Cost-benefit study pans Italy's high speed rail link to France-papers

MILAN, Feb 3 (Reuters) - A cost-benefit analysis of a divisive 26 billion euro ($30 billion) high-speed rail link from Italy to France (TAV) will give a resoundingly negative verdict, several Italian newspapers reported on Sunday.

The projected 270 km (167 mile) line connecting Turin to Lyon is opposed by Italy’s ruling anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, while backed by its coalition partner, the right-wing League.

The report will recommend against the completion of the project, La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera, Il Sole 24Ore and Il Messaggero reported, quoting Transport Ministry sources.

The ministry declined to comment.

Italy’s Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, a 5-Star member, set up a commission to carry out the cost-benefit analysis, while another group of lawyers is examining the legal implications for Italy in case of a withdrawal.

Italy aims to decide by the end of May whether to complete the TAV, Toninelli has said.

The outcome of the cost-benefit analysis is not binding for the government, which also needs to weigh the costs of a potential withdrawal from the project.

5-Star says the TAV is a huge waste of money and the money could be better used to bolster dilapidated infrastructure elsewhere in Italy.

The League, seen as a pro-business party whose voter-base is in northern Italy, says the TAV will create jobs and reduce the pollution of road haulage. It would also be unwise to pull out of a project already underway, it said.

The cost of the TAV is to be split between Italy, France and the European Union.

$1 = 0.8731 euros Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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