Tuesday, 19 February 2008

To tram or not to tram?

Sorry, that sounds like one of those awful advertising slogans in "English" which only German-speaking marketing gurus could think up. Be that as it may, today could be a historic day in the life of the "border triangle" down here. Weil's councillors will decide today whether they want tram no. 8 to be extended all the way to Weil. They need to notify Basle of their decision by tonight at the latest. Wait any much longer and Berne will revoke its offer of financial support for the project. There has been a lot of hefty discussion about this question of financing over the last few weeks, with more twists and turns than Weil's über-roundabout. If you want some truly blinkered views from the Swiss about this whole affair, check this forum. It looks like the recriminations could soon begin.

Essentially, I'm in favour of the tram. However , it takes two to tango - and if the verdict from Weil is negative tonight, it'll be like sticking two fingers up at Basle's self-styled ideal of a trinational metrobasel area. In my opinion, metrobasel being a project conceived in Basle sums up the fundamental problem. No one seems to mention metrobasel here in Germany. How ever much Basle tries to persuade Weil of the fantastic prospect of having a tram, there seems to be a misunderstanding of each other's position and motives. And however much the individuals on the above-mentioned forum reason otherwise, the overriding impression I have is that this is a Basle project, so Basle should put its money where its mouth is.

[Postscript: Not that I'm suggesting that the decision-makers in Weil are against the project, but Weil as a town had a rather serious debt problem when I first moved here. The current Oberbürgermeister looks like he's succeeding in getting the books in order, then the Swiss come with their ambitious plans and you can understand the misgivings on the German side. Hopefully the state of Baden-Württemberg as a whole, i.e. Stuttgart, will agree to provide more funds.

Incidentally, someone in the above-mentioned forum wondered why Weil could afford the finance the pedestrian bridge over to the France but not this. Afforded it?! I don't think Weil would have been able to even contemplate building that bridge without the help of money from other private and public sources.]

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