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Stuttgart 21 talks begin

The Local · 22 Oct 2010, 09:59

Published: 22 Oct 2010 08:33 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Oct 2010 09:59 GMT+02:00

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Heiner Geißler, a veteran Christian Democratic politician, will lead the discussion, and plans to hear arguments from both sides on whether the massive undertaking is the right choice for the southwestern German city and surrounding region.

Geißler has said that construction on the multi-billion-euro infrastructure project will be halted during talks until November. Opponents of the expensive overhaul of Stuttgart's main train station had demanded a stop to construction as a prerequisite for discussions.

Baden-Württemberg’s conservative state premier Stefan Mappus, along with state Environment Minister Tanja Gönner, Stuttgart Mayor Wolfgang Schuster and Deutsche Bahn leaders will face opponents from the environmentalist Green party, the city government and leaders of the huge public protest movement.

With talks running between 10 am and 5 pm at the Stuttgart city hall, each side will have 45 minutes to present their ideas on different aspects of Stuttgart 21.

Broadcasters Phoenix and SWR will carry the event, and it will also be available live online.

Deutsche Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube said ahead of the talks that he hoped the public would change its mind about Stuttgart 21.

“I am very confident that conducting the arguments in the open – particularly when it comes to things that effect Stuttgart – will bring about a change in public opinion,” he told news agency DPA, adding that already “many people want it.”

Grube was backed by comments from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called the project “clever policy for the future” during a regional conference for her conservative Christian Democrats on Thursday evening.

But the chancellor also urged Stuttgart 21 leaders to be honest about its costs, which have been a main concern of opponents.

“Simply say at the beginning what the real price is,” she said.

Protest group the Parkschützer, or Park Protectors, demanded financial transparency from Stuttgart 21 project leaders.

“The burden of proof is on Deutsche Bahn and the politicians,” spokesperson Carola Eckstein said in a statement on Friday. “It is up to them to account to the public for how public funds and assets are to be used. They must prove that this will achieve important objectives for the public, that this project represents a useful investment for society.”

Story continues below…

Stuttgart 21 is a massive undertaking to make the city part of a 1,500-kilometre high-speed rail route across Europe. It will require 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 – requiring a dramatic re-landscaping of the city centre.

In recent weeks demonstrations against the project have intensified, coming to a head three weeks ago when more than 100 protestors were injured as police turned water cannons, batons, and tear gas on the crowd to break up their blockade of the construction site.

Protests continued on Thursday night, but unlike previous times, some 5,000 Stuttgart 21 advocates gathered for a march through the central Schlosspark – the same site of the violent clash between the project's opponents and police three weeks ago.


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Your comments about this article

11:23 October 22, 2010 by pepsionice
This will be comical. The 21 guys will be asked what tracks or tunnels they don't want built....and they answer "all". The 21 guys will be asked what stations they don't want built....and they answer "all".

This will go nowhere and show the 21 folks being mostly unable to define how any modernization can occur....my humble opinion.

Based on what I've seen....the city needs some massive effort. I agree that the old bahnhof needs to be gutted completely. Maybe a quarter of these new tunnels might be questionable....but over half of this project needs to be accomplished.
19:21 October 22, 2010 by toemag
Maybe they should have the old Bahnhof placed under the "Denkmalschutz" listed objects in the city.....

May as well close the stable door's as the horses have all run away :-D
10:53 October 24, 2010 by Frank Sure
Stuttgart has the worst city planning ever, certainly for a city that had money to do better. Residents should be wary when the first thing planned to go is a section of their PUBLIC park and trees, apparently simply for the crucial need of storing some dumpsters!? Or so that excuse emerged after one scratches the surface of the story re-told in different ways.

Just try to drive into the main part of Stuttgart city and see their road "planning" at work. They never had any vision, and now they fail again at trying to have one, replacing vision for lobbyists fantasy. This is a city focused on car production, but it's impossible to manage to drive in that mess of a city. Good sign for understanding transportation. Now please tell us about trains. This the last city that has a decent train station renewal. When it comes to building projects, suddenly the fattest budgets occur. Could it be because it's got the combination of their Landesbank, Concrete and Glass lobby, the major architectural and engineering schools, along with Deutsche Bahn who can only calculate that way? The DB has proven its ineptness regarding finance, and their own building in Berlin, but they should be trusted now based on... what?

Decades ago every other German city has updated their train station and services, Stuttgart didn't because some day they might do Stuttgart 21? So for TWO decades now, they avoided a decent train station services selection. Now in the midst of an economic crisis, they want to tear into the fabric of the city on a scale that is unheard of in Germany in an existing, and importantly, economically well-off area. So basically, one generation gets to grow up in a total, chaotic mess (look at the first step of the park story and demonstrations and extrapolate how each further problem will be "handled") which will include spiralling costs, taxes, and quality of life living next to construction areas for tunnels or any of a variety of building projects.

This is a developers fantasy that has already made enough money for contracts awarded and skimmed. They should re-tailor for reality now and do a better p.r. job with the city that they upend for one generation. Water cannons is not a good sign for that "process".
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