For month the people of Baden Württemberg Germany have been protesting and politically fighting against a very controversial renovation of the city of Stuttgart’s main train station, called the Stuttgart 21 rail project. However, the people have voted and the protestors have lost the fight. The city of Stuttgart’s main train station will be mostly replaced by underground infrastructure that aims to support a high speed rail network stretching from Paris to Budapest.
While America struggles to even set up a simple high speed rail network much of Europe is already up and running on high speed rail. For many in America, high speed rail is viewed as a very practical and alternative means of transportation and something that the United States is severely lacking. If high speed rail is really the bee’s knees, why did so many German people not want the update in the city of Stuttgart?
The opposition was not to high speed rail but to the station renovation and came from Germany’s Green Party. The Green Party has claimed that the renovation project is too expensive and environmentally unfriendly. The estimated cost of the project is 4.5-billion-euro ($5.9 billion) a figure that, when released in 2010, caused massive riots.
On the environmental side of things, according to the Green Party, the station renovation would lead to the destruction of around 300 trees in a nearby public park and would threaten a mineral springs in the area due to the need to lower groundwater levels during the process of moving the station underground. The Green Party argued that the best thing to do would be to simply update the current station, which has been in existence since 1928, without moving it underground.
After the dust settled from months of protest leading up to the vote, the votes were tallied and close to 60% of voters came out in favor of the renovations.
State Premier Winfried Kretschmann the head of Baden Württemberg’s center left coalition government and Green Party leader conceded defeat, “The people have spoken,” Kretschmann said. “I accept the results, even if it does not conform to my wishes.”
The German Green Party, or Greens, came into existence 30 years ago. At first laughed off as an environmentally centered group that would not last, the Greens have proven themselves to be a political powerhouse in German politics. Following the nuclear disaster in Japan, the Greens had enough backing to win the Prime Minister’s seat in Baden Württemberg Germany.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison