Now for something completely different! the TAV

This is the first part of some thoughts I am putting together out of my own interest. The TAV refers to the proposed high-speed railway link between Turin in Italy and Lyon in France. It is entitled New Thinking, New Opportunities, New Skills and Jobs

Abstract

The preparation of this document has been stimulated by a recent meeting that had the objective to discuss the preparation of proposed Piedmont legislation to protect closed railway lines in the Piedmont Region from being dismantled. Naturally, this provokes the question of why and who should be concerned? And of course, linking the proposed legislation to the ongoing debate surrounding the highspeed rail link between Turin and Lyon; and other similar projects planned or underway in Italy.

In writing this piece, I have been inspired by the Strategic Foresight Primer[1] of the European Political Strategy Centre. The document does not constitute a proposal or represent the views of any political party or interest group but rather provides some ideas for discussion, and, wherever possible, point to areas where short stories to stimulate a further exchange of ideas and visioning. As Angela Wilkinson quotes “We can either slow down the pace of change or speed up our ability to learn our way into the future”⁠([2]), and as such the document avoids any dogmatic and/or ideological approach. 

Taken in isolation, the proposed legislation risks: opposition from various political parties and interest groups; bogged down in detail by discussions regarding specific lines and technical detail. A key issue is that the future development and/or reinstatement of closed railways does not feature as a priority for the Region. The topic was not included in current POR (Regional Operative Programme of the European ESF “New Skills for New Jobs”), nor, at this stage, does it appearin the Regional Tourism Strategy that is currently under preparation ([3]) Arguably, a convincing justification for the proposed legislation should be linked to a broader medium long-term vision for the Region. 

The Context outlines some of the key issues that will impact upon the future development of the Region in the context of climate change and sustainable development; and, naturally the debate of rail vs road transport in the Region and beyond, and the importance of Turin and the Region in the related to culture in its broader sense, its tradition for engineering, research and innovation and the role they can play in under the auspices of the Alpine Convention strategies to promote a Green economy linked to innovation with respect to, among others, rural development beyond the regional conurbations.  The “headline” contextual analysis forms the basis for New Thinking, New Opportunities, New Skills and Jobs.  At the same time, suggestions for the proposed use of the lines within the context of this broader vision could be more appropriate e.g. commuter, freight, tourism, heritage, etc. and associated innovation that will develop Turin as a European Centre of excellence for research linked to the vision of European Transport in 2050. Above all, for the Region to be the European showcase for environmental sustainability and healthy legacy for future generations in line with ambitions set out in recent strategies under the auspices of the Alpine Commission and those of the European Union. 


[1]Strategic Foresight PrimerAngela Wilkinson European Political Strategy Centre; https://espas.secure.europarl.europa.eu/orbis/sites/default/files/generated/document/en/epsc_-_strategic_foresight_primer.pdf

[2]Op.cit. p.2

[3]It is not clear how advanced the tourism strategy is. There are currently two formerly closed railway lines in Piedmont that operate occasional tourist trains.