March 30, 2011

Construction suspended on Stuttgart 21

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GERMAN RAIL (DB) has ordered the suspension of construction on the Stuttgart 21 project pending the appointment of a new government in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Tendering for further contracts on the controversial project to replace the city's terminus main station with a new underground through station has also been curtailed.

After 57 years in power, the Christian Democratic Union suffered a heavy defeat in Sunday's state elections at the hands of the Greens and Social Democrats (SPD). The leader of the SPD in Baden-Württemberg Dr Nils Schmid welcomed DB's decision to suspend construction and said his party "wants to let the citizens decide on [the fate of] the project."

stuttgart21.jpgGreen state premier-elect Dr Winfried Kretschmann said his party enjoyed a large boost in the polls from opposition to Stuttgart 21. Since 2009 the project has been the source of intense protest, including police action last September that injured more than 100 people. Regular demonstrations have taken place in the city, the largest of which attracted almost 100,000 protestors.

Much of the acrimony surrounding the project concerns its cost. The Green party argues the true costs were unknown when it was granted parliamentary approval. The project was originally expected to cost €2.6 billion, plus €2.03 billion for the 60km Wendlingen - Ulm high-speed line. The city section is now expected to cost €4.1 billion, while a new study last year revised the cost of the high-speed line to €2.89 billion, taking the total cost to almost €7 billion.

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