IRJ - May 2011 - (Page 6)
Future of Stuttgart 21 in doubt as construction halts
Keith Barrow Associate editor
ERMAN RAIL (DB) has ordered the suspension of construction on the Stuttgart 21 project pending the appointment of a new government in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Tendering for further contracts on the controversial project to replace the city’s terminus main station with a new underground through station has also been curtailed. After 57 years in power, the Christian Democratic Union suffered a heavy defeat in March’s state elections at the hands of the Greens and Social Democrats (SPD). The leader of the SPD in BadenWürttemberg Dr Nils Schmid welcomed DB’s decision to suspend construction and said his party “wants to let the citizens decide on [the fate of] the project.” Green state premier-elect Dr Winfried Kretschmann said his party enjoyed a large boost in the polls from opposition to Stuttgart 21. Since 2009 the project has been the source of intense protest, including police action last September that injured more than 100 people. Regular demonstrations have taken place in the city, the largest of which attracted almost 100,000 protestors. Much of the acrimony surrounding the project concerns its cost. The Green party argues the true costs were unknown when it was
At what cost cancellation?
ITH contracts signed and work underway, cancelling Stuttgart 21 at this late stage is likely to incur significant costs for the state. Baden-Württemberg has committed around a third of the project cost, with a third coming from the Federal government and the rest from DB. If the state government walks away, it could face substantial compensation claims. In an interview with Bild am Sonntag last month DB CEO Dr Rüdiger Grube warned the state would have to pay DB ƒ1.5bn if it pulls out, roughly equivalent to the funding it has committed to construction. “Stuttgart 21 is happening, with 100% certainty,” Grube asserted. Furthermore, the incoming
granted parliamentary approval. Stuttgart 21 was originally expected to cost ƒ2.6bn, plus ƒ2.03bn for the 60km Wendlingen - Ulm highspeed line. The city section is now expected to cost ƒ4.1bn, while a new study last year revised the price of the highspeed line to ƒ2.89bn, taking the total bill to almost ƒ7bn. A recent study identified 48 potential risks in the project which could add a further ƒ1.26bn to this amount. The new administration is expected to sanction a “stress test” to identify weaknesses and their potential financial risk.
state government also needs to consider what should be built instead. Even opponents of the project recognise something needs to be done to improve the existing main station, which is constrained by its terminus layout. According to the Stuttgarter Zeitung, the Green party is keen to reach a compromise with DB that would allow the high-speed line to Ulm to be built on a revised alignment while preserving the existing station buildings. However, with the high cost of cancelling the underground station, this will remain an expensive solution and one that is unlikely to find favour, with both DB and the Federal government still committed to the original plans.
FS and NTV lock horns over track access rights T
HE board of NTV, Italy's first high-speed rail openaccess operator, has unanimously denounced the behaviour of infrastructure manager Italian Rail Network (RFI), which it claims has unilaterally changed an agreement between NTV and RFI reached in January 2008 on which NTV's whole business plan is based. NTV sees this action as yet another attempt by RFI, which together with Trenitalia are subsidiaries of Italian Railways (FS), to prevent NTV from launching its high-speed services later this year. NTV says that RFI has published a new PIR - the document which regulates the relationship between RFI and train operators - which substantially changes the rules governing access to the rail network. NTV says the new PIR ignores the stipulations of the Rail Regulator (URSF) and only allows train operators seven days to respond. The new PIR was published just days after a request for paths for the 2012 timetable. FS rejects the allegations, claiming NTV has unilaterally amended its launch date four times due to circumstances beyond the control of FS. NTV is now calling for the immediate establishment of a truly independent third party to supervise railway liberalisation in Italy. The company says the dispute jeopardises the ƒ1bn private investment in the project and the jobs of the 300 people
employed by the company. NTV wants to launch its service by the end of 2011 or early 2012, which is later than originally planned, but the proposed new rules announced by RFI will not allow this. NTV says that in order to start its services in 2012, under the new rules it must present its safety certificate by August 2011, but this document includes the certification of its AGV trains which will not be obtained before September or October.
IRJ May 2011
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