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Bahn CEO hits back at Stuttgart 21 opposition

The Local · 3 Oct 2010, 11:43

Published: 03 Oct 2010 11:43 GMT+02:00

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In a guest opinion piece for Bild am Sonntag, the head of Germany's national rail provider said Stuttgart 21 was legitimate from a democratic standpoint and rejected opponents' "right to resist" the project.

"In our country, parliaments decide, no one else," Grube wrote, drawing a parallel German to reunification.

"On the 20th anniversary of our national unity, it's worth remembering what the brave people in East Germany were fighting for: for democracy and the rule of law," he said. "What does that have to do with the Stuttgart 21 rail project? A lot!"

In a counter-commentary to Grube's statements, Green party co-leader Cem Özdemir said improvements to Germany's rail system should be pursued in "intelligent and economically sensible" ways, "not à la Stuttgart 21."

Özdemir said the true costs and risks associated with the project were still unknown when it received parliamentary approval. "Now the real facts are increasingly coming to light," he wrote, calling for construction to stop until a public referendum can be held.

A day after police used water cannons and pepper spray on demonstrators staging Stuttgart 21 protests on Thursday, reportedly leaving more than 100 people injured, the Green party called for nationwide protests against the controversial project.

The project has become increasingly unpopular among residents in Baden-Württemberg's state capital, with demonstrations growing larger and more intense as construction proceeds.

The €7-billion project aims to make the city part of a 1,500-kilometre high-speed rail route across Europe. Stuttgart's terminus will be transformed into an underground through-station – requiring a dramatic re-landscaping of the Schlossgarten.

In an interview with Germany's Welt am Sonntag published on Sunday, Baden-Württemberg's state premier Stefan Mappus said failing to move forward with Stuttgart 21 would constitute a setback for the state's infrastructure.

Story continues below…

"We would lose a unique chance to connect Stuttgart to the international high-speed network," he said.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:15 October 3, 2010 by toemag
Delusional disorientated drivel, well done.
13:29 October 3, 2010 by MonkeyMania
So he reckons everyone should shut up and let them do what they like?
13:58 October 3, 2010 by pepsionice
"In our country, parliaments decide, no one else,"

In this case, he is absolutely correct. We don't want riot-squads to determine the fate of a city or a state. Nor would any community appreciate the leadership of anarchists in determining their future.

Amnesia everyone? Over the past decade, this project has been mentioned in the local press of Stuttgart, and the entire region. Significant protests or court actions to halt the actions then? No. None of these mighty protest groups did anything of local/state significance to halt the project. It took over fifteen years of planning, discussion in the local area, and then the push along state/national levels to get funding. Plenty of time to stop a project, IF anyone truly wanted that as their agenda.

What you have now are some unhappy residents who have to stand and watch ten years of construction in their backyard, a bunch of under-achiever anarchists from Stuttgart and the region who want to demonstrate their powers to stop a state-run project, and teenagers in Stuttgart who are looking for fun & adventure when it comes to riots or protests.

The cost factor in this argument? Amusingly enough...every single project that goes beyond two years....from autobahns to bridges....is typically an estimate. They all tend to go higher, especially projects going past five years. So, why don't you all use this argument and stop every single major autobahn project in Germany right now? Wouldn't it also make sense to take them down as well....because of the false estimate on costs? If you want true costs on every single project.....then make a stand. Obviously, none of you grasp that part of the argument, because you never argue about bridges, roads, railway projects, airport projects, etc.

Finally, if I'm city management and the anarchists win in this case. I'd put the old station back into operation, undo whats been done, and then refuse to renovate much of any train station in the city for the next twenty years. I'd save my money and just work on streets and bridges. Eventually, everyone will look at a run-down train station in the middle of the city and demand action. Then, with the roof leaking, I'll smile and say sure....bringing out the old 10-year plan and put it right back in action. People who are stupid today to fight something....will be just as stupid in a decade or two to accept the same thing. The young anarchists will have grown up and latched onto anchors like a job, family, a house, a better community, etc. .
15:00 October 3, 2010 by hanskarl
Thank you pepsionice. The cost of construction materiel over the last 5 years on some products has trebled or quadrupled at least. The buildup of third world economies in the Far East into major economic powerhouses has created shortages. This project has been on the books and in the press for years. Why just now protest.

It seems to me that the stirring up of the pot at the last minute by the Greens with glittering generalities like Green party co-leader Cem ízdemir statement "improvements to Germany's rail system should be pursued in "intelligent and economically sensible" ways, "not à la Stuttgart 21" implicates that it is merely political manuevering.
17:52 October 3, 2010 by Bushdiver
Who wants to go to Stuttgart anyway? I call it the gray city as it resembled cities in one time East Germany. Besides the government here never asked it's citizens if they wanted the Euro so why would anyone think they would ask the citizens of Stuttgart over such as small deal as this.
19:49 October 3, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
Hey Mr. pepsionice, I don't follow you here: by "riot squad" are you referring to the police who assaulted legally assembled demonstraters, or by "anarchists" do you mean those German citizens enjoying the legal right to peaceful assembly and protest, or do you refer to "riot squad" women, children and elderly and "anarchist" police who assault defenseless citizens? Thanks for clearing this up.
20:24 October 3, 2010 by Joshontour
Okiein... This was an illegal demonstration, and you know that. The permit for this demonstration was not approved and therefore it was illegal. Us law abiding citizens in Stuttgart are tired of these demonstrators.
21:35 October 3, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
Joshontour, thanks for clearing that up -- my mistake. I guess, then, that mass

assault of peacefully assembled citizens is justified.
23:17 October 3, 2010 by pepsionice
For Herr OkieinBerlin

It's a funny thing about republics. Folks (even Germans) vote for someone to make their decisions for them. In the German case, you vote for the party to lead the government, the state, or the city. If you aren't happy with that result....then you vote the folks out, or you use legal court actions to achieve your results.

Anything other than that....involves anarchists....end of the story. Some German schools still teach this lesson in civics. The rest of these modern day school teachers just grin and recite how they did things in the 1960s to change governments. If you prefer changes by riot-squad...I'm pretty sure it'll work for a few weeks and months, until Germans ask who is in charge of the riot-squads and what their intent is. Then things tend to fall apart fast.
08:47 October 4, 2010 by JDee

@JoshOnTour do you not understand that the demonstrators believe they are doing the right things so that everbody in Stuttgart will have a better life for the next 12 years. Can you not forsee the disruption the project is going to cause. Cutting sideways through the centre of the city dissecting two of the major traffic and infrastructure arteries that service the city. They only started on Friday and already the Volksbank cash machines were out of action this weekend. Imagine having to divert all of the services that are in the ground, IT infrastructure, electricity, gas, water, sewage, other telco's, then the noise, the dust, the ugly wall and fencing which will divide the city in half and inevitably terrible traffic jams. How could all of this inconvience you less than the demonstrators? In fact I don't even understand, could explain more specifically how the demonstrators are disrupting your life?
10:00 October 4, 2010 by freechoice
that is one bad ass CEO.

i still say Stuttgart 21 design is crap!

it's so un-German...
11:19 October 4, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
Mr. Pepsi (again), I understand how republics (government of the people, by the people, for the people, no?) are supposed to work, and I also understand the right to protest peacefully, and I think I understand your rather simplistic definition of anarchy. But I still don't understand who mean when you refer to "riot squad" -- citizens protesting peacefully, or police assaulting them violently.
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