There’s a running joke in Germany about the new Willy Brandt Airport in Berlin, which was supposed to open 10 years ago, and, if all goes well, should be completed by 2020. People are also commenting on the resounding flop of the inaugural run of the high-speed train from Berlin to Monaco, which arrived two hours behind schedule. But the most egregious public works nightmare in Germany is without a doubt “Stuttgart-21”: 57 kilometers of railway which have been under construction for eight years.
A large-scale project designed in 1994, it was supposed to cost around €4 billion, but it has already burned through more than €7.6 billion. It is a black hole in the public finances, not only of the Baden-Württemberg region but also of the federal government, while the sinkholes in the Jura Mountains, caused by bulldozers going into the tunnels, are getting larger and larger.
For the Merkel government, this is a strategic piece of infrastructure, the backbone of the Paris-Vienna corridor. According to environmentalists, it is “yet another unnecessary and harmful work of devastation of the land, which will destroy biodiversity in the southwest of Germany.” On account of this, they will organize on Jan. 15 what is already their 400th protest, in the square in front of Stuttgart Central Station.