x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A shameful litany of fiascos at Berlin airport

The fiasco of Berlin's new airport is not an isolated case in Germany. A number of other projects are being marred by cost overruns and delays, in some cases compounded by local public opposition via lawsuits and demonstrations.

The humiliation surrounding Berlin's new airport is not an isolated case in Germany.

A number of other projects are being marred by cost overruns and delays, in some cases compounded by local public opposition via lawsuits and demonstrations.

The south-western city of Stuttgart, home to Daimler, has faced an uphill battle to replace its ageing central train station with an underground one. Known as Stuttgart 21, its costs have almost trebled to an estimated €6.8 billion (Dh32.44bn) from an originally projected €2.4bn. Tens of thousands of people have protested against the project, partly because they regard it as too expensive.

Construction work started in 2010 - 16 years after planning began - and it is not expected to be finished until late 2021. Some experts say that by then, the bill may have reached €11bn.

The opening of Hamburg's futuristic Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall, originally due in 2010, has been delayed to 2017. Construction came to a standstill for a year due to a dispute between the builder, Hochtief and the architects over costs and safety concerns. A new price was agreed at the end of last year - €575 million. That is almost twice the €241m set in 2007.

Completion of the new headquarters of the BND foreign intelligence service in Berlin was initially scheduled for 2011 but has now been delayed until 2015 and the cost has almost doubled to €1.4bn. As if that were not enough, the agency was embarrassed in 2011 by news that confidential construction blueprints from the building site had been stolen.

Berlin's main train station, opened just seven years ago, will have to close several tracks on a bridge section running through the station due to a construction flaw. The work to make the bridge more stable will lead to disruption for three months in 2015, the railway said. The transport minister Peter Ramsauer is annoyed that maintenance work on such a large scale will be needed so soon after the station was opened. He blamed newfangled construction techniques used in the futuristic, multi-storey station.

"That's a typical case again: one isn't incorporating tested and resilient techniques, it's always got to be something revolutionary and new," he says.

In the eastern city of Leipzig, a 1.5km city tunnel designed to move commuter trains more quickly through the main train station was due to be finished in 2009 at a cost of €572m. Instead, it will cost €960m and open at the end of this year at the earliest.

But delays can happen anywhere, and sometimes corruption is the cause.

Italy's 480km A3 motorway from Salerno to Regio Calabria, which leads through a region notorious for its mafia network, is one example. It was started in the 1960s and still is not finished. It is a mess of roadworks and unlit, dripping tunnels and it frequently narrows to two lanes. Almost every kilometre had its own construction firm.

Construction costs will end up 10 times the original estimate.

 

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