About 90 members of the activist group Parkschützer, or “park protectors,” were removed from the entrance to the north wing of the Stuttgart main train station. Meanwhile police were able to persuade several farmers from the region, who had brought three tractors to help create a blockade, to drive their vehicles away.
Several demonstrators chained themselves to a tanker trunk, but police removed them after unfastening the links. The truck had been meant to deliver fuel to large machinery where construction on the €4.1-billion project began some two weeks ago.
The fact that farmers had also participated in the most recent protest was a sign that the movement has reached conservative (CDU) state premier Stefan Mappus’ voter base, Parkschützer leader Matthias von Herrmann said.
Meanwhile several thousand demonstrators were expected to attend another protest of the mammoth rail project on Monday evening. The actions are just the latest in ongoing – and increasingly loud – displays of public ire over plans to make the city of 600,000 a key station on one of the longest high-speed lines in Europe. The 1,500-kilometre railway would link Paris, Strasbourg, Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.
Engineers plan to blast 16 tunnels and cuttings into the many surrounding hills, build 18 new bridges, lay 60 kilometres of new train track and create three new stations.
But opponents are furious that the project will, among other things, tear down the side wings of the train station building, a 1928 modernist classic designed by Paul Bonatz.
State leaders and executives from national rail provider Deutsche Bahn have offered to pause construction at the site for talks with project opponents on Friday morning, but insisted this should only be understood as only a “gesture.”