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Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail operator has announced it's willing to foot the bill for huge extra costs for a controversial railway project in Stuttgart. It said opting out of the scheme is no option at all.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn announced on Wednesday its controversial Stuttgart 21 project in the southern German city (Baden-Württemberg state) would eventually cost 1.1 billion euros ($1.43 billion) more than the 5.62 billion euros earmarked originally.
Chief Planner Volker Kefer said the extra costs would be born by Deutsche Bahn itself, that is without the regional state, municipal authorities and Stuttgart airport having to make a contribution.
According to the plans for the project, Stuttgart's current main train station is to be largely replaced by underground infrastructure that aims to support a high-speed rail network stretching from Paris to Budapest. The scheme had earlier caused massive street protests by opponents for months on end.
Last word not yet spoken
Kefer said opting out of the project would be no feasible alternative, adding that a withdrawal would cost the rail operator 2 billion euros at least. "But it's clear that Deutsche Bahn's profitability will suffer because of the extra costs," Kefer said in a statement.
But later in the day, Deutsche Bahn's supervisory board warned management would have no free hand in pushing ahead with the project just like that. It said a decision about the fate of Stuttgart 21 would only be made at an extraordinary meeting of the board. The supervisors said they were irritated by the announcement of additional costs.
"It's completely inexplicable how this has all come about," a board member commented. Baden-Württemberg's Transport Minister Winfried Hermann said he would also have Deutsche Bahn's figures checked carefully, mentioning the option of involving the Federal Auditing Office.
hg/hc (Reuters, dapd)