Bahntunnel unter dem Bosporus

Rail tunnel under the Bosphorus strait, being called the Marmaray Connection.

A tunnel for trains opened between Europe and Turkey! ARD tagesschau.de said it was a joint Japanese-Turkish project that found many archeological treasures, including old ships from sunken armadas.

(BON toon ell   OON tah   dame   BOSS pore us.)

Schlichtungsstelle für Flugreisende

“Arbitration board for air passengers.” Created on 03 May 2013 by the Bundesrat to support consumers traveling by air. Starting November 2013, passengers in Germany can contact this office to seek information about passenger rights and financial remuneration from airports and airlines after e.g. delayed connections, missed connections and/or lost luggage. What airlines owe passengers after which screwups is also being defined in regulations.

Update on 01 Nov 2013: German air passengers can now contact the Schlichtungsstelle für den öffentlichen Personenverkehr [German Conciliation Body for Public Transport] to start arbitration proceedings in disputes with airlines. German rail, bus and ship passengers already had this right from that office. Costs for the proceedings will be paid by German transport companies; passengers requiring arbitration in a transport dispute will only have to pay their own costs.

The söp’s charming and helpful English page stated,

“A traveller can get help with a complaint about delays and missed connections, train and plane cancellations, damaged or lost luggage, faulty information, tickets and reservations, and/or bad service. The main task of the söp is the out-of-court settlement of individual disputes between travellers and the transport companies. Within this, söp also helps to strengthen the customer satisfaction with the transport company. […]”

“The söp follows a service and practical approach, as intermodal (‘verkehrsträgerübergreifende’) settlement scheme. It is common for travellers to use more than one form of transport (e.g., train to plane), which can take up a lot of time in a dispute by investigating the whole chain of transport, including the responsible contracted partners. With the söp the consumer does not have to deal with the question of responsibility and can, independent from the transport of choice, just deal with one contact person at söp (one-face-to-the-customer-approach).”

(SCHLICHH toongz shtell ah   foor   FLOOG rye zen dah.)

Das bürgerliche Lager

The “burghers camp,” the “middle class position,” was being invoked in Stuttgart’s recent politics much as the “center” is in the USA. After Stuttgart’s mayoral election on 21 Oct 2012, the Green candidate had 52.9% of the vote and the “nonparty” (CDU, Merkel-supported) candidate 45.3%. The Green party is now in charge of Stuttgart for the first time, with an absolute majority (!), after 40 years of CDU mayors in various coalitions. Part of the voters’ general anger was in response to last year’s “Stuttgart 21” controversy in which the CDU insisted on going through with expansion of the main train station at the cost of parts of its historic building, trees in the castle park, public access to the castle park for ten years of construction, public land sold for development and cost overruns exceeding the originally promised price of EUR 200 million to the current estimate of EUR 4 billion and possibly even EUR 18 billion because a 2003 report found the area too unstable for an underground train station. I also wonder about the archeological losses incurred by digging next to a castle site that’s over a thousand years old.

New Oberbürgermeister Fritz Kuhn (Green Party) said, “This assumption that the burghers camp is the CDU and FDP is ~[as dead wrong as it’s possible to be wrong in a very wrong way]. We too are in the burghers camp, but with a progressed understanding of the middle classes. And today’s success is actually the success of a long-term strategy that’s been ongoing for years.”

Update on 12 Dec 2012: Stuttgart 21 is now estimated to cost 6.8 billion euros (but only if it  finishes in 2021 as planned, &c.). The head of Deutsche Bahn, the German Rail operator, has now alleged that canceling the project will cost 2 billion euros. But, says Spiegel-Online, he has also said for some time that Stuttgart 21 would only be worth carrying out if its costs did not exceed 4.7 billion euros.

Update on 21 Nov 2013: An expert opinion report found that ex-governor of Baden-Württemberg Stefan Mappus (C.D.U.) overpaid by ~780 million euros when he bought into private energy utility company EnBW in 2010, negotiating a shares purchase package for 4.7 billion euros. The report was commissioned by the Stuttgart prosecutors’ office.

Update on 07 Mar 2014: Stuttgart prosecutors are now investigating ex-governor Stefan Mappus for his role in the police beatdown of the Stuttgart 21 protests. They are examining whether Mr. Mappus lied, while not under oath, when he told the state parliament’s investigating committee that he’d never exerted any influence on the government’s counterprotest measures, that he merely gave police moral support during visits and meetings. Top police officials and their documents have now indicated that the governor made “rigid instructions” during the protests, including telling police to use water cannons. ~130 demonstrators and ~30 police officers were injured during the events that ensued on 30 Sep 2010. Mr. Mappus’s hands-off claim was supported by the head of police at the time, Siegfried Stumpf, who said he alone bore responsibility for the decisions and their consequences. Now other top officials have said Mr. Mappus told police, “Bring the bulldozers in. If you won’t do it, I’ll get police from another state.” Mr. Mappus denies this and has filed a lawsuit for defamation [üble Nachrede].

Update on 05 Aug 2014: The castle park is gone. Digging started on the huge Stuttgart 21 underground train station even though experts say a canal running through the site will cause problems. Deutsche Bahn will have to pump out groundwater but only has a partial permit to do so. Also, Deutsche Bahn still doesn’t have an approved fire protection concept. The latter issue ended up costing the Berlin-Brandenburg airport years and billions of euros, with still no solution in sight.

ZDF heute journal reported that a new fire safety concept had to be developed for the underground train station after requirements were set higher in 2010 and after a stress test showed more passengers would be using the facility than the planners had calculated. Now what looks like fire escape stairs will be built, three on each platform. One problem there is that there will be only 2.05 meters of space on either side of these sets of stairs, bottlenecking masses of rail passengers. The founder of a “Wikireal” fact-checking portal told ZDF that Deutsche Bahn has said two meters isn’t enough space even in small train stations. Deutsche Bahn’s Stuttgart 21 spokesman said there were no bottlenecks in the planned train station.

The new fire safety concept was supposed to be approved in June 2014 but the authorities had questions, said Deutsche Bahn’s Stuttgart 21 spokesperson.

(Doss   BERR gur lichh eh   LOG er.)

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