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Germany

Stuttgart 21 railway protests to continue

Opponents of the controversial Stuttgart 21 railway project are set to hold another mass protest against the multi-billion-euro project. A leading politician, meanwhile, has struck a more conciliatory tone.

Protesters against the Stuttgart 21

Another mass rally is planned for Monday evening

Opponents of the controversial Stuttgart 21 railway project are set to continue their campaign of protests on Monday with more mass demonstrations.

The project aims to make Stuttgart and the surrounding region part of a 1,500-kilometer, (932-mile) high-speed rail route across Europe.

Organizers expect 20,000 demonstrators to attend a rally against the project, which is expected to cost German taxpayers an estimated seven-billion-euros ($9.5-billion).

Baden-Wuerttemberg Premier Stefan Mappus

Mappus changed his tactics following criticism over heavy-handed police tactics

Double-edged sword

The premier of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stefan Mappus (CDU), has adopted a more conciliatory tone following violent clashes between police and demonstrators late last week. In an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt, Mappus said he was prepared to hold talks on the Stuttgart 21 railway project.

"I'm in favor of jointly discussing optimization, changes and improvements," Mappus said.

Meanwhile construction workers over the weekend erected three-meter (9.8-foot) steel fences around the building site to stop any further disruption.

The head of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, Ruediger Grube, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the Stuttgart 21 project had been "democratically legitimized" and that no one had a "right to resist" the construction of a railway station.

Stuttgart railway

The futuristic railway station has a multi-billion euro price tag

"Here parliaments decide, no one else. Our democratically-elected legislators have done it a dozen times - at state, federal and regional level," he said.

Justice Minister Ulrich Goll, however, has accused the demonstrators of lacking any "sense of shame" for their actions.

Protests turn violent

Environmentalists have vowed to keep up protests against the Stuttgart railway project, following widespread criticism of the government after last week's violent clashes, when hundreds of people were injured after police used tear gas and water canon to disperse protesters in the Schlossgarten park.

"We will organise more huge protests," said Gangolf Stocker, a spokesman for a campaign against the redevelopment of Stuttgart's railway station.

On Saturday, dozens of environmentalists camped in tents and treehouses in a park outside the station where workers have begun chopping down trees as part of the station expansion.

Author: Nigel Tandy (AFP/dpa)

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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