GERMANY’S administrative court ruled on May 7 that German Rail (DB) is solely liable for cost overruns on the €11.45bn Stuttgart 21 project. The scheme to replace Stuttgart’s surface-level main station with new underground platforms and enable redevelopment of the site has been controversial from the start.

But when it became clear that costs were significantly running over budget, the project partners, the Baden-Württemberg state government, the Stuttgart city government, the Verband Region Stuttgart transport authority, Stuttgart Airport and the German federal government, also known as Project Partners Stuttgart 21, refused to take on any further financial liabilities, as they argued they had agreed to fund the project on a fixed-cost basis. DB disagreed and took initial legal action in 2016.

The ruling, which comes after around a year of legal arguments, means that DB faces an additional bill of around €7bn, plus court costs, for the late-running project. Earlier this year, DB informed the project partners that it could not guarantee the new station would be ready to open, as planned, at the December 2025 timetable change.

DB announced before the court decision that it would contest the verdict in the event of a defeat. After the ruling, spokesman Mr Achim Stauss told local media that the company was waiting for the detailed verdict and would then examine what further steps might be taken.

In a statement issued after the verdict, DB confirmed that it was considering an appeal. “DB is still of the opinion that the project partners must contribute to financing the additional costs of the Stuttgart 21 project,” the statement says. “Due to the history of the project's origins, the financing negotiations and the contractual provisions regarding joint project responsibility, DB assumes that there is also joint financing responsibility.”

The company is therefore looking to the project partners to reimburse it to the value of at least €4.56bn.

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