And so back to the fun and games of Stuttgart 21 (Give the people what they want, etc). The background to the story is here, and some more recent developments are here. It’s German Railways (AKA Deutsche Bahn or DB) and the (then) centre-right state government’s plan to rebuild Stuttgart’s man station and quite coincidentally make some of the most valuable building land in Germany available for sale. Nobody in Stuttgart wanted this except the project partners, who said it couldn’t be stopped because:
1: There would need to be a referendum in Stuttgart. That’s democracy: a small group can’t control everything their way. (except us obviously: see point 4)
2: Oh, wait: there can’t be a referendum in Stuttgart because some of the money is coming from the state, not the city. (and we may lose)
3: The contracts have been signed and it would cost too much to cancel them.
4: Shut up. Politicians make decisions, not people.
5: The dog ate our homework.
6: Go away or we spray you with water cannon.
After the authorities learned the hard way that water-cannoning peaceful crowds of protesters including women and children was A Very Bad Idea, there was a mediation process, and the Stuttgart 21 partners agreed to a ‘Stress Test’: a computer based simulation to show that the new station really could take 30% more trains than the old one.
The agreement was that if the ‘stress test’ showed the planned eight platform station was too constricted, then they would have to figure out how to make a ten platform one instead. (for comparison, the current station has seventeen platforms).
This would cost more of course, but when the agreement was made it was the ‘good old days’ when the CDU were in charge and there was an apparently limitless fund financed by the taxpayer, but now the Green Party are in, and they’ve quickly decided the project will now have a maximum 4.5 billion Euro budget. If it costs more DB will have to pay for it themselves. Currently costs are spiraling and some estimates suggest they will end up on the other side of 20 billion. We’ve already had hissy fits from Deutsche Bahn.
DB won’t let anyone in on the ‘stress test’ claiming they can do it themselves. (this is the company that ‘forgot’ several kilometres of track and a tunnel in their original cost estimates) so the Greens commissioned an independent ‘Stress test’ which reported back last week that an eight platform station can’t work.
Stuttgart 21’s supporters are strangely quiet at the moment.
Now we wait for the ‘other’ stress test.*
*But I bet I know what it’ll say…