In 2004 I posted a ‘tip’ on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist about the central railroad station in Stuttgart. Little did I know, at the time, that the fate of this station would later turn into one of the hottest political issues in Germany. My original ‘tip’ read as follows:
In this part of the world a joke is circulating which bills itself as “Germany’s Shortest Railroad Joke.”
It goes: “Two members of the Board of Directors of the German Railroad System meet on a train.”
The point is (in case you aren’t doubled over in uncontrollable spasms of laughter) that these high-powered managerial geniuses have rarely if ever set foot in a train in their lives, otherwise why would they want to tear down this bright, convenient Central Station and replace it with a dingy underground tunnel.
They had a scheme called “Stuttgart 21” which was intended to do just that. At a cost of millions of Euros, it was intended to save a couple minutes of travel time between Frankfurt and Munich, and free up scads of urban real estate which they thought they could market at a huge profit. (And of course make room on the surface for even more automobiles, but they didn’t stress that part.)
As anyone knows who has ever changed trains with a couple of suitcases or a baby carriage, it is much faster and easier if everything is on one level, namely ground level. Since all the tracks end here you can just walk around them to get to your new train.
And since all the trains can be driven from both ends now, there is no need to change engines. One engineer (‘train driver’ to you) gets out at the front end, his colleague gets in at the back, which is now the front, and off they go.
And I added a sentence about the “Stuttgart 21” project which later turned out to be drastically incorrect:
Fortunately there is little danger that this hare-brained scheme will actually be implemented, mainly because it would cost millions of Euros that nobody has in their budget.
My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2020.
See also: Stuttgart 21 (coming soon).