New doubts have been raised about the future of the Stuttgart 21 rail project by an internal paper from the German Transport Ministry. Sticking points include billions in additional costs and timeline. The railroad wants to pay additional costs of 1.1 billion euros – there is no basis for this, according to the report published by the "Stuttgarter Zeitung" to the partially published dossier: "The arguments for not rejecting further financing are too weak."
The paper also says the project won’t be ready until 2024 if approval processes continue to drag on. So far, the first trains are scheduled to roll through the underground station in 2020.
Federal Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer (CSU) countered the impression that the federal government was distancing itself from Stuttgart 21. "This is hogwash.", Ramsauer told ZDF on the sidelines of an economic conference in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. "The note from my ministry is old hat. These are individual opinions from the lower level of my ministry."
That assessment was echoed by rail project spokesman Wolfgang Dietrich. A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Transport said in Berlin: "The federal government is interested in an open debate. However, this does not mean "moving away from the project itself." As the owner of the railroad, however, the federal government must "ensure that damage is averted from the DB AG company."
Date for supervisory board meeting not yet fixed
Supervisory board members of the state-owned company met this Tuesday in Berlin for a workshop on the cost explosion of the project, which had previously been calculated at 4.5 billion euros. The date for the next regular meeting of the board of directors, at which a decision will be made on the assumption of the additional costs, has not yet been set.
According to the newspaper, the paper also calls for alternatives to be considered. There was also talk of a possible exit. According to the dossier, the project would only remain economically viable for Deutsche Bahn if the state-owned company’s own share of the additional costs was less than 1.8 billion euros. In December, Deutsche Bahn announced that the financing framework for S 21 would increase by 1.1 billion euros to 5.6 billion euros. The Group wants to bear the additional costs. In addition, there would be risks of 1.2 billion euros for which the company does not want to assume responsibility.
The Green politician Anton Hofreiter even assumes up to 11.3 billion euros. The chairman of the Bundestag’s transport committee demanded on Bavarian radio that, in case of doubt, it would be better to pull out now.
The head of the SPD parliamentary group in the Stuttgart state parliament, Claus Schmiedel, sees the dossier as an attempt to malign the rail project in the public eye. "This is targeted propaganda", he said to the news agency dpa. This is also indicated by the fact that the paper has no sender and no signature. Schmiedel warned against an exit, which he said would cost more than three billion euros.
According to the newspaper, DB’s top management is also accused in the dossier of having informed the supervisory board too late, insufficiently and even incorrectly. It is not correct that the total financing of S 21 is still secured. For this reason, the federal government cannot release any more payments for the project. The additional costs calculated by the railroad are "only partially reliable and by no means conclusive".