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Police union calls for Stuttgart 21 backup

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Police union calls for Stuttgart 21 backup
Photo: DPA
08:30 CEST+02:00
Baden-Württemberg urgently needs police reinforcements from neighbouring states and federal forces to handle growing protests of the controversial Stuttgart 21 rail expansion project, the German Police Union (DPOLG) said Monday.

Officers in the southwestern state will not be able to shoulder the task much longer, DPOLG head Rainer Wendt told daily Handelsblatt, adding that it was only a matter of time before other state and federal police will be forced to step in.

“The same units can't simultaneously stand watch over nuclear waste transports, left-wing and right-wing demonstrations, football matches, or conduct surveillance on violent criminals who have been set free – and then deal with the anti-atomic energy demonstrations all over Germany,” he told the paper.

Wendt said the state of Baden-Württemberg alone would have to carry the costs of police operations surrounding the protests if other states did not help out, estimating that the demonstrations against the mammoth renovation of Stuttgart's main train station have already cost them some €3 million.

“The federal police and the states support each other with solidarity and only bill for overtime and material costs,” he told the paper.

With the growing expense in mind, Wendt called on Stuttgart and national rail operator Deutsche Bahn leadership to meet with critics of the project in an attempt to convince them to end their demonstrations, which continued to grow at the weekend as activists estimated some 65,000 took part in a human chain around the station.

The actions are just the latest in ongoing – and increasingly loud – displays of public ire over plans to make the city of 600,000 a key station on one of the longest high-speed lines in Europe. The 1,500-kilometre railway 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 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.

DAPD/AFP/ka

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