Who has to pay the billions in additional costs for Stuttgart 21? This question has been before the administrative court in Stuttgart since Monday. Several lawsuits by Deutsche Bahn against the project partners of Stuttgart 21 are being negotiated there (13 K 9542/16). Deutsche Bahn wants the state of Baden-Württemberg, the state capital of Stuttgart, the Stuttgart Region Association and Stuttgart Airport to contribute financially to the additional costs for the reorganization of the Stuttgart railway junction.
At the first meeting, the two sides first discussed procedural issues. The presiding judge Wolfgang Kern emphasized that the court wanted to simplify the procedure as much as possible. "We would like to complete this procedure as quickly as possible in the first instance," said Kern. He assumes that the decision of the Stuttgart Chamber will not remain, but that the parties involved will probably appeal.
Procedure extremely complicated and extensive
The process is extremely complicated and extensive. The lawsuit was filed back in 2016. According to the court, Deutsche Bahn wants to file up to 100 different lawsuits. On the first day, the main focus was on what Deutsche Bahn actually wants to achieve with these applications - and which ones are really necessary. That was not entirely clear to the presiding judge; he tried to understand the motions and asked precise questions. After a long debate on how to understand a certain protocol, he came to the conclusion: "Oh, what a shame! Is it that complicated?"
Deutsche Bahn, which is the official client of Stuttgart 21, currently estimates the total costs for the project at 9.15 billion euros and has also factored in a buffer of 640 million euros. However, a financing agreement from 2009 only regulates the distribution of costs up to a good 4.5 billion euros. At that time, the state pledged a participation of 931 million euros, the city of Stuttgart gave 292 million, the airport contributed 227 million, and the Verband Region Stuttgart pledged 100 million euros.
Additional costs of more than 4.5 billion euros
It is currently unclear who will bear the additional costs of more than 4.5 billion euros. The so-called speaking clause was anchored in the financing contract to deal with possible cost increases. It says: "In the event of further cost increases, the EIU (railway infrastructure company) and the state will enter into talks."
What exactly is meant by the speaking clause is very controversial between the project partners. Deutsche Bahn is assuming "joint responsibility for financing" and wants the other project partners to share in the additional costs using the same distribution formula as in the financing agreement. The project partners see things completely differently and insist that fixed amounts have been agreed.
A decision in the process should not be made so quickly. Deutsche Bahn now has two weeks to specify and submit its complaints. The next hearing is expected to take place on August 1st. Then it should no longer just be about procedural issues, but also about the question of whether the railways are actually entitled to further financial participation from the project partners - and if so, to what extent.
Notifications of the administrative court on the procedure