When the Stuttgart 21 rail project was announced back in 1995, the state of Baden-Württemberg reckoned that costs wouldn’t rise above €2.5 billion. By the most recent official estimates, they could rise up to €10 billion.
Included in the project are plans to modernize rail lines to Stuttgart Airport and the nearby city of Ulm. The new station will also become a link in one of the longest high-speed lines in Europe. The 1,500-kilometre railway would link Paris, Strasbourg, Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.
The opening date has been pushed back to 2021, but even that is not considered very likely. A report by consultancy firm KPMG published in 2016 said a 2023 opening was more realistic.
If this sounds familiar to the people of Berlin, who are still waiting on their new airport, at least Stuttgarters can now pretend their station is open.
Thanks to a virtual tour on offer on the project’s official website, locals and rail enthusiasts can explore the futuristic building and its surroundings as it will look when it finally opens.
When it is ultimately finished though, the station should be a sight to behold, even if a very controversial one.
The 17 platforms in the southern city’s old station are to be replaced by eight underground platforms covered by a circus tent-style roof.
And on the virtual tour, one can get a sense for how the finished building will look from the inside and outside via 20 different 360 degree viewpoints.
From sparkling clean platforms, you can look up to the draped ceiling, or take the escalators into the historical old station.
The project, though, has been heavily criticized as it involved the destruction of part of the original building.
Built between 1914 and 1928 on designs by architects Friedrich Eugen Scholer and Paul Bonatz, it was one of Germany's first modernist structures.
Protests against the project reached a peak in 2010 when roughly 30,000 people demonstrated in front of the building site against its rising costs and environmental impact.