The normally quiet, middle class, southern German city of Stuttgart has been galvanised by plans to build a state of the art rail interchange.
It is one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects and has attracted opposition on a par with its scale:
“This project is unnecessary. The station has been there for a hundred years and we’ve managed just fine. I think the four billion euros they are splashing out on this could be put to much better use.” were the thoughts of one protestor.
The old building has to be partially demolished before the station and its tracks can be reconstructed underground.
Work began on Thursday but ground to a halt when protestors occupied part of the roof.
The benefits would include faster regional connections. But critics fear the costs could soar and the tunneling work be disruptive. Tens of thousands have demonstrated.
Supporters also say entire new neighourhoods could be built on what is currently a city centre marshalling yard.
The Stuttgart 21 project is the result of 15 years of planning and political debate.
Protests have gathered steam over the summer, as the official start of construction drew closer.