Thursday, June 8, 2017

Let the Train Wait for the Lizards

Thousands of lizards delay controversial Stuttgart 21 rail project

Deutsche Bahn budgets €15m to relocate threatened sand and wall lizards as costs continue to grow in major station upgrade

A multibillion-euro railway development project in southern Germany, which has already been waylaid by spiralling costs and rows over environmental concerns and viability, is facing its latest challenge – two threatened species of lizard.

Thousands of sand and wall lizards have been found along the route of the project, known as Stuttgart 21. A major upgrade of Stuttgart’s central station, it is part of 35 miles (56km) of new lines for the trans-European rail network. 

Deutsche Bahn, one of the main players behind the project, has estimated the cost of resettling the reptiles at around €15m. The rail company says it has budgeted between €2,000 and €4,000 per creature.

The lizards in question are considered threatened species in Europe. They include a small group of sand lizards (a sexually dimorphic reptile with eye-shaped markings that lounges on rocks and sleeps in holes) as well as several thousand wall lizards (a small brown-grey reptile that is typically found on walls and stones).

Both types were found on a construction site for an Intercity Express line between Stuttgart and Ulm. Their discovery, and the resulting battle between conservationists and constructors over how to deal with them, has already delayed the project by 18 months, according to a project spokesman.

To resettle the lizards, experts are being brought in to catch them in nets. The reptiles are then to be transported six miles to a new home in Untertürkheim.

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