Stuttgart Station / Germany


Germany, Stuttgart station: German railway system:

**Organisational structure of the German railways:

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SMGG “stations” study - Holding-type organisation of German railways - UIC 2013

Deutsche Bahn AG is structured as a holding company. The different subsidiaries under the responsibility of Deutsche Bahn AG have independent accounts, although the managers of each subsidiary have to comply with the rules set by the parent company. Deutsche Bahn AG is a public company currently in the process of privatisation.
To ensure a maximum degree of neutrality on a network open to competition, a regulatory office was set up in 2006, the Bundesnetzagentur.

German railway network:

  • Organised hierarchically, dense, and extensive ‒ one of the largest networks in Europe.
  • 41 315 km (2005): 19 857 km of the network are electrified (alternating current, 15 kV), 1 468 km are double track.
  • 3 000 km of privately-operated secondary lines, representing 280 networks.

The railway network is open to competition from railway undertakings with a European licence. In 2011, network access charges for other companies amounted to € 2.64 - 14.45 / train-km.

The federal government owns the network infrastructure via DB AG, but only subsidises regional transport. Long-distance services do not receive any subsidy.

Governance and financing of German stations:


Ownership: DB AG: buildings and passenger areas.
DB Netz AG: platforms, tracks and access ramps.

Management: Since 1999, DB Station&Service, a subsidiary of DB AG, has been in charge of the operational and commercial management of the 5 400 stations on the German network.

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SMGG “Stations” study - Governance of German stations - UIC 2013


Construction and renovation of German stations are financed by: the federal government, DB AG Holding, local authorities and public-private partnerships.
Financing of operating costs of stations: -

Renovation policy for stations in Germany: Latest trends:

In Germany, most stations are terminuses, cul-de-sacs, which is not the optimum configuration for traffic. In addition to various projects aimed at renovating and increasing the size of certain stations around the country, DB is focusing first of all on mammoth operations involving complete station reconfiguration, such as the highly controversial “Stuttgart 21” project. These projects are extremely costly and the economic climate is very difficult for DB.

Current station renovation projects in Germany are above all urban projects with a variety of goals: using the station project to regenerate a neighbourhood, revitalise a city, recover usable land or introduce high speed.

Case study, Stuttgart station:

Geographical context:

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Stuttgart is a densely populated city with 613 392 inhabitants (twice the size of Zurich).
Urban context: central.
At the heart of a dense urban fabric.

Distance between main airport / station:

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The distance between Stuttgart central station and Stuttgart airport is 20 km – 27 minutes by suburban train.

Station’s position on railway network:

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Situation within Stuttgart transport network:
International hub (less than 3h from France and 4h from Brussels), with connections that could be improved by the new Stuttgart - Ulm HSL.

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Central station of a regional express network: ICE (InterCity Express), RE (Regional Express) and RB (Regional Bahn) trains, and of a mainline and international network. This network is of great structural importance to the region, making the station the hub of a conurbation totalling 5.5 million inhabitants.
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7 light rail (S-Bahn) lines.

Stuttgart station, key figures and accessibility:

Construction year: 1922 Number of metro lines: 7
Date of latest renovation: currently in project phase Number of regional lines: 6
Total station surface area: - m² Number of bus routes: -
Number of travellers / year: 87.6 million -
Number of visitors / day: 200 000 visitors Number of public car parks: - parking spaces
Retail space: - m² Cost of parking near station: -
Number of retail outlets: 40 Parking surface area: -
Restaurant space in station: - m² Cost of cycle hire: -
Infrastructure manager: DB Presence of checkpoints in station: yes
Operator: DB Transfer time in station: -
Number of tracks in station: 17

Number of trains / day: 600 trains (35% urban, 40% regional, 30% long-distance)

One of the specific features of the station is that it is situated in a declivity with a difference in height of 150 m.

History of Stuttgart station:

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View of Stuttgart station, historic building. Source: Stuttgart city website

Construction began in 1914 and the station was opened in 1922. In addition to its great architectural value, the new building fitted in very well with the other structures in the city centre. This massive building is almost imperceptibly tailored to its precipitous surroundings ‒ the distance from highest to lowest point is 5 m.

During the Second World War it was seriously damaged on several occasions. Reconstruction work took place several years after the war. On 20 August 1987 the building was listed as a cultural monument of special significance.

In response to the Stuttgart 21 project, which involved demolishing part of the station, on 25 November 2009 UNESCO conservationists proposed that the building be classified as a World Heritage site, forcing city authorities and Deutsche Bahn give up plans to partially demolish the building.

Renovation of Stuttgart station:

Progress status: ongoing

Duration: 2010 -?


  • Underground work to change from a cul-de-sac configuration to a through-station configuration.
  • Refurbishment of station interior.
    Financing: DB, local authorities, German government and Stuttgart airport.


  • DB
  • Government
  • Local authorities (Land, Region, and city of Stuttgart)

Conclusion / expected outcome:

  • New situation within city: through-station configuration
  • New station underground.
  • Increased surface area and commercial capacity.
  • Recovery of 100 ha of land in the city centre.|

Description of station renovation project:

Stuttgart 21 is a rail and urban project aimed at completely reorganising and upgrading the Stuttgart railway hub.

Due to its urban scope, cost and controversial nature, the project is one of the most significant station projects of the early 21st century in Europe.

The key priority of the project is to transform Stuttgart station from a cul-de-sac into an underground through station.

Purposes of renovation:

  • Urban: recover usable land in the city centre, an increasingly rare resource.
  • Regional: give the station international significance by improving access to the city airport, providing new direct services and making the station a central connecting point on the line between Paris and Bratislava.

Project description:

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Stuttgart 21 project: La vie du rail. October 2010 - UIC 2013

A new station design, with a sub-surface station connected by means of tunnels to the airport and the main regional and international transport routes.
This is more than a mere station renovation, it is an truly urban project on a national scale with international ambitions.

It is also ambitious in financial terms, but the idea was sold thanks to the extra income due to be generated by the 100 ha of land made available in the city centre by the relocation of the station underground.

Project at urban level:

The project to renovate Stuttgart station is just one part of a much more extensive project:

  • A new station, Fiderbahnhof, is due to be built near Stuttgart airport.
  • A new direct service to the central station will depart from the international airport, passing through the station of Fiderbahnhof.
  • Stuttgart-Untertürkheim (name of station neighbourhood) will be opened to S-Bahn services.
  • New line towards Ulm.

Project in figures:
For the Stuttgart 21 project:

  • 57 km of new railway lines.
  • 30 km of high speed lines.
  • Removal of 157 km of overground track.
  • 16 new tunnels.
  • 18 bridges.

Renovation project at station level:

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Stuttgart 21 project: La vie du rail. October 2010 - UIC 2013

Station entirely transferred underground and 100 ha (size of a small district in Paris) of land made available. Aside from Monaco, there has never been a railway project on this scale before. A whole urban project is centred around this transformation: the creation of the Europe quarter (new business district of the city).
The network and the station are being upgraded, the latter of which has seen little redevelopment work since its construction in 1922.
Renovation work will spare the historic station building, effectively the passenger part of the station, which over 200 000 passenger pass through every year and which includes 40 retail outlets.

A controversial project:

Since the project was launched in 2010, it has been faced with fierce public opposition. The cost of the project, 2/3 of which will be offset by tax revenue, is partly to blame, but environmental concerns have also undermined the legitimacy of this huge project, as works would be set to last over ten years and have an extremely negative energy balance.

  • Ecology:
    The worksite itself would produce adverse ecological effects in proportion with the scale of the project, not to mention use of “agricultural” land by the new high speed lines.
  • Project cost:
    • Figures given in 2010: total cost of € 4.088 billion, with € 1.469 billion financed by DB, € 1.229 billion by the Federal Republic of Germany, € 824 million by the Land of Baden-Württemberg, € 239 million by the city of Stuttgart, € 227 million by the airport and € 100 million by the Region of Stuttgart.
    • Figures in 2013: additional costs of € 2 billion, project authorities questioning its feasibility and alternatives currently being considered.
  • Heritage: Stuttgart central station is one of the few stations that survived the Second World War. Half of this listed building would have to be demolished, a prospect that has been completely rejected by the people of Stuttgart.


The Stuttgart project currently appears to be very compromised. Although its aims were highly praiseworthy, it has not been met with unanimous approval. One could ask what the reasons are for the controversy surrounding this project, which seems to be a perfect response to new demands of the railway sector, and whether it could be given a better image.

The number one source of controversy appears to be the cost. However, the issue should not be couched in such terms, as the project in itself seems to justify such expenditure; the main issue should rather be seen as the sources of financing! Private or perhaps European financing could perhaps be sought.

Regarding the environmental issue, would the impact not be offset by greater use of the railway mode in the future? If so, maybe a balance can be achieved.

But beyond issues of style or scale, the fundamental question raised by a project of this nature concerns the new role of the station and the challenges raised by reimagining that role at the scale of the city - is Stuttgart presently a major hub? If so, for which network?