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Police arrrest 27 as Stuttgart protesters block road, talks falter

The Local · 25 Sep 2010, 12:15

Published: 25 Sep 2010 12:15 GMT+02:00

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Talks between those in charge of the project and opponents threatened to collapse before they had even begun, after Deutsche Bahn and the state government said they would not stop work as protest leaders had requested.

“One would not have to call it a halt to building, rather a pause,” said Werner Wölfe, transport expert for the Green Party.

But Stefan Mappus, state premier for Baden-Württemberg said, “My hand is stretched out regarding the configuration of the project. But there will not be a stop to construction.”

Rüdiger Grube, from Deutsche Bahn, also rejected calls for a halt to the work.

Mappus and Grube presented two new managers of the project – former regional Stuttgart government leader Udo Andriof and IT businessman Wolfgang Dietrich – to replace Wolfgang Drexler who stepped down as Stuttgart 21 spokesman after the Social Democratic Party, of which he is a member, called for an immediate halt to work on the project.

“Everything is heading towards a referendum,” said Nils Schmid, state head of the SPD, which has called for a popular vote on the project.

While Mappus said discussions could be held about the final plans for the city centre in relation to the new station, he said there would be no stopping the rail project.

The aim is to make Stuttgart part of the 1,500-kilometre high-speed rail route across Europe, requiring 16 new tunnels, 18 new bridges, 60 kilometres of new train track and three new stations.

Stuttgart's terminus will be transformed into an underground through-station, with the side wings of the protected building, built between the wars by architect Paul Bonatz, falling victim to the wrecking ball.

Costs are planned to be €7 billion, but an independent report cited by the Greens has put a total projected bill as more like €11 billion.

The state's conservative Christian Democratic Union members have seen support dip dramatically in the face of the protests against the project, and are said to be deeply unsettled at a recent indication from party leader Chancellor Angela Merkel that the state election in March would be a vote on the matter.

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Volker Kauder, head of the federal CDU parliamentary party, tried to calm the waters by saying that was not the case.

“The state election is of course not a vote on Stuttgart 21. The citizens know that is basically about whether Baden-Württemberg will continue to be a strong state,” he said.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:54 September 25, 2010 by annan1063
What is the big deal here? I do not understand why people are opposed to this...A high speed train will benefit all in the long run. People need to go and protest something that really matters...
23:51 September 25, 2010 by hussar
This project has cleared every bureaucratic hurdle put in front of it. While it was being studied by the appropriate approval authorities, opponents were lucky to get 200 demonstrators at their demonstrations. Now that it had met every bureaucratic hurdle and the demolition of the northern wing has begun, over 30,000 people have decided that they now need to oppose it. Where were they when it was being run through the lengthy approval process? This is clearly just an opportunity to demonstrate against something - anything. Let's wait and see how big the crowds are while the Castor transports are going on.
01:38 September 26, 2010 by freechoice
Keep up the protests! You have my spiritual support! One thing the new station looks terrible and bear no resemblance to German building heritage! Memories of feelings people have with their love ones at the train station are gone just because of that new bizarre station!
14:44 September 27, 2010 by JDee
I can only speak for myself in that I always thought the plans were so ridiculous and because the cost predictions were repeatedly breaking the agreed limits that they would not be dumb enough or legally able to start. With potential energy problems, potential further recession or quite possibly sustained economic depression on the horizon starting this project was highly irresponsible.
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