The interest in Stuttgart 21 is huge: from Holy Saturday to Easter Monday, 90,000 people came to see the progress at the “open construction site”. “Their enthusiasm is infectious,” says Bernhard Bauer of the Stuttgart-Ulm railway project association.

With his head craned back, Erik looks upwards. Halfway up the scaffolded hall, part of the old Bonatz building, hangs a sign familiar to users of the former Stuttgart station. White on blue it reads: North Exit. “That was the way out to the taxi stands,” the man in his mid-forties remembers. Now the passage hangs in the air.

The visitor stands one floor below, where there used to be a basement. This is shown by the information boards on the redesign of the building. Jan Freitag, an employee of DB Station&Service AG, explains that there were always surprises during the work. The building structure was different than expected. The building is 100 years old and was destroyed during the war and then rebuilt. Freitag speaks of patchwork that made the work difficult. But now everything is safe. The newly designed hall, which will have two levels with shopping facilities and ticket counters, is expected to last at least a century.

The main attraction are the chalice pillars

The main attraction at the seventh edition of the open construction site days are the chalice pillars of the track hall. Cast in concrete, they form the roofing of the track hall pierced by large light eyes. The glass for the skylight areas is still missing. Of the 28 supports, 27 are in place, and the last one should be in place in a few weeks.

The crowds are bigger than at any previous construction site open days. “By Monday afternoon, a good 90,000 people had come,” reports Bernhard Bauer, chairman of the railway project association, “that’s really sensational.” Last year there were “only” 59,000 visitors.

While a father wonders aloud whether there will also be goblet supports for the model railway at some point, his sons search the terrain for Easter eggs. Besides a children’s rally and the opportunity to gain experience with a real six-tonne excavator, the egg hunt is one of the attractions that make the tour suitable for families. “It is important to us that people see with their own eyes what is being built here and how far we have come in the meantime,” says David Bösinger, the head of the press office. Last but not least, the opportunity to talk to experts is met with great interest. The topics range from species protection and the environment to the conception and planning of the Digital Node Stuttgart, the expansion of the railway lines with the train control system ETCS (European Train Control System). Here, the Managing Director of DB Projekt Stuttgart-Ulm GmbH, Olaf Drescher, will personally answer questions.

The uncomfortable topic of construction work, closures and the effects on rail customers will not be left out either. Drescher emphasises that this is a pilot project that is advancing the digitalisation of the railway as a whole. Many experiences are therefore being made for the first time in Stuttgart, and subsequent projects will benefit from them.

When it comes to the question of what the new underground station can do, David Bösinger sees a need for information. Example: the number of tracks. Critics have repeatedly used the existing 16 tracks of the current station as an argument for its greater capacity. But it only has five sidings for train changes. And that is the decisive factor. The new station has eight. This infrastructure alone will significantly increase capacity, says Bösinger. Digitalisation is expected to bring a further increase. Then it will also be time for the 130 new double-decker trains in regional transport, which can be tested at the bwegt stand.

S21 to go into operation in December 2025

Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens), who visited the construction site on Saturday at noon, is sure that passengers “will come in droves” once the rail vehicles, whose equipment is on a par with ICE trains, are in operation. In any case, rail customers will have to wait until December 2025 to enjoy the new travel experience. That is when Stuttgart 21 is also scheduled to go into operation. “The enthusiasm of the visitors is contagious and motivating for everyone involved,” says Bernhard Bauer, chairman of the Stuttgart-Ulm railway project association.

By Monday afternoon, a good 90,000 interested people had taken the opportunity to take a look at the construction site between the Bonatzbau and the tunnel north of the station trough. In 2022, there had been 59,000 visitors. Bernhard Bauer is overwhelmed by this record result.

Source: Stuttgarter Zeitung