Karl-Peter Naumann, the head of the association Pro Bahn, told daily Berliner Zeitung it wasn't too late to stop the partial demolition of the southwestern city's historic train station in the hopes of making it an important European rail link.
“The politicians and (Deutsche) Bahn certainly didn't expect so much opposition,” he said. “That could cause this project to be reconsidered and there could be a return to plans to modernise the terminal.”
Tens of thousands of people in the state capital of Baden-Württemberg have demonstrated in recent weeks against the Stuttgart 21 project, which aims to make the city of 600,000 a key station on one of the longest high-speed lines in Europe. The 1,500-kilometre (930-mile) "Magistrale for Europe" would link Paris, Strasbourg, Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.
Engineers plan to blast 16 tunnels and cuttings into the many surrounding hills, build 18 new bridges, lay 60 kilometres (40 miles) of new train track and create three new stations.
But opponents are furious that the project will, among other things, tear down the side wings of the train station building, a 1928 modernist classic designed by Paul Bonatz.
Naumann said abandoning the expensive project would actually be in the interest of most regional rail passengers.
“Stuttgart 21 offers absolutely nothing traffic-wise except for linking the convention centre with long-distance connections,” he said. “But it's news to me if Stuttgart is supposedly an internationally important trade fair location.”
Naumann said Pro Bahn supported modernising the historic terminal building and dropping plans for expensive excavation work.
“That's enough, you don't need an underground construction costing billions,” he said.
Deutsche Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube proposed on Saturday a roundtable between opponents and supporters of Stuttgart's controversial railway construction.