In the referendum, 58.8% voted against withdrawing the state's Euros 930m contribution, a move that allows the project to poceed. In Stuttgart itself, where opposition has been most intense, 52.9% voted against the withdrawal of funding.
stuttgart21-new.jpgProject managers today held a special meeting with the German Rail (DB) Executive Board to advise them of the next steps for the project. DB has yet to give its public reaction to the outcome of the referendum.
In March voters in the state elected a coalition government of Greens and Social Democrats (SPD), which promised to let the public decide the future of the project. Stuttgart 21 had been a key issue in the election, which ousted the Christian Democratic Union after 57 years in power. SPD politicians in Baden-Württemberg have broadly supported Stuttgart 21, while the Greens have vehemently opposed it. Last night Green state premier Dr Winfried Kretschmann conceded defeat. "The people have spoken," he said. "I accept the results, even if it does not conform to my wishes."
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. Stuttgart 21 was originally expected to cost Euros 2.6bn, plus Euros 2.03bn for the 60km Wendlingen - Ulm high-speed line. The city section is now expected to cost Euros 4.1bn, and is capped at Euros 4.5bn. A new study last year revised the price of the high-speed line to Euros 2.89bn, inflating the total bill to almost Euros 7bn.
A "stress test" conducted this year by SMA, Switzerland, concluded the project is still financially viable.