Construction frozen on controversial Stuttgart 21 rail project | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 29.03.2011
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Construction frozen on controversial Stuttgart 21 rail project

National rail operator Deutsche Bahn has ordered a temporary freeze on the demolition of the main train station in the German city of Stuttgart after months of angry protests.

Demonstrators hold a banner with the words Stuttgart 21 crossed through in red

Demonstrations against Stuttgart 21 have been ongoing

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) has announced a work freeze on a contentious rail project centered on the southwestern city of Stuttgart following recent state elections.

DB said construction work at the Stuttgart 21 site would cease until a new premier and government for Baden-Württemberg state, of which Stuttgart is capital, are sworn in in May.

"Until the state government comes together, Deutsche Bahn will not undertake anything new on the rail project Stuttgart 21, neither in terms of construction nor by awarding contracts," DB board member Volker Kefer said.

Baden-Württemberg saw elections over the weekend that booted the long-standing Christian Democratic Party from office and handed a resounding victory to the Greens and opposition Social Democrats (SPD).

State Premier-elect Winfried Kretschmann of the Greens enjoyed a large boost in support from a public movement within Baden Württemberg against the redevelopment of Stuttgart's main railway station. Opponents to the scheme have drawn national attention to their protests against the cost, disruption and environmental implications of the plans.

Police spray demonstrators with water cannon

The authorities have come under fire for their handling of Stuttgart 21 protests

The project will see Stuttgart's historic main station demolished and replaced with a new underground facility with construction costs estimated to reach 7 billion euros ($9.8 billion). The new station would turn Stuttgart into a major European rail hub.

The leader of the SPD in Baden-Württemberg, Nils Schmid, welcomed the temporary work stoppage, commenting that "it makes sense that Deutsche Bahn await further developments" in the state before continuing work on the site.

"Furthermore, the SPD wants to let the citizens decide on [the fate of] Stuttgart 21," he said Tuesday, echoing earlier comments by Kretschmann.

The Greens' state transportation expert, Werner Wölfle, said the freeze was "a good first step" and "the least he expected" from DB following the state election.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner

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