GERMANY: The controversial Stuttgart 21 project will be carried through to completion and not abandoned because of rising costs, Deutsche Bahn announced on March 5.
‘The time of uncertainty is over — the project will continue’, asserted DB Chairman Dr Rüdiger Grube at a hastily called press conference following an extraordinary meeting of DB’s Supervisory Board at which members voted (with one against and one abstention) to press ahead, despite the expected cost rising by €2bn.
The decision came after a detailed investigation of the project costs. External financial consultants had been brought in to help DB determine if the scheme to replace the present terminus at Stuttgart with a through underground station should be abandoned, but the supervisory board ruled that it would accept the management board’s proposal to increase the available funding from €4·5bn to around €6·5bn.
Dr Volker Kefer, Board Member for Technology, Systems, Services & Infrastructure, was at pains to assert that no additional costs had been incurred to date and that the increase in funding would cover all known risks over the life of the project, based on experience over the past three years.
DB warned, however, that it was still negotiating with its partners — the federal government, Baden-Württemberg, Verband Region Stuttgart and the city authorities — about sharing the increased cost; Grube hoped that amicable agreements could be reached.
To charges that 100 000 people had petitioned Chancellor Angela Merkel against the scheme, Grube replied that he knew of 200 000 who supported the project.
The scope for potential savings was evident from a revision of the construction plan for the 9·5 km Filder tunnel which will see the TBM turned round under the city centre rather than dismantled in a specially-built cavern, saving around €100m.
Stuttgart 21 will in future be handled by a dedicated project management company rather than by DB-Projektbau. This is expected to facilitate the construction process, with the target opening date of December 2021 remaining unchanged.