Airport train project is finally starting

The long-delayed train to the plane is closer to reality

Investors and developers have unveiled plans for a suburban railway from Prague to Kladno with a new loop to Václav Havel Airport Prague. The train will stop at Nádraží Veleslavín and continue to the airport's Terminal 2, which serves Schengen countries. Bus service from the metro station at Veleslavín to the airport will be reduced once the railway station is operational.

The same project includes repairs to the Negrelli viaduct, which will link the train line to Masarykovo nádraží. The upgraded tracks will be capable of carrying modern electric trains that provide a high level of comfort at speeds faster than buses or trams.

Making a rail line from Prague to Kladno via the airport has been identified as priority by the government. Total travel time from Kladno to Prague would be cut in half from one hour to half an hour.

Many of the existing tracks date to the 19th century and were made for coal trains. The tracks will be modernized for electric trains and doubled, and modern safety elements will be installed.

Metroprojekt and Sudop Praha are working on the project, under a contract from the Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC). The plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Transportation and a decision on the construction locations should be issued in 2018. Construction on the new airport extension loop could begin in 2021. The total cost of the project could reach Kč 23 billion, but be higher if tunnels are used.

Electic trains will travel at 80 km per hour from Veleslavín to the airport and up to 130 km per hour from the airport to Kladno. Aside from upgrading the existing tracks, a new five kilometer branch will go to the airport. New stations will also be built at Liboc and Dlouhá Míle.

The project planners have agreed with the operator of the airport, Český Aeroholding, on details of the station there. The station should be southeast of Terminal 2 and be at a depth of 12 meters and have a direct connection to the terminal.

Plans for a railway to the airport were first mentioned in 1996 but have long been delayed. Work was supposed to have started last year. Passengers will likely wait up to 10 years before they can actually take the train to the airport.

But work on the first stage is set to finally begin with repairs to the Negrelli viaduct in Prague's Karlín district. All of the building permits have been issued and a tender is underway for a contractor to do the work. Unless there is some legal action that blocks the work, such as someone contesting the tender, then work should start in April and be completed in 2019. The viaduct, which crosses the Vltava river, will be out of service during the repairs. Several sections of construction on the Prague to Kladno route will require trains to take detours. Start dates for other sections of the project have not been determined, and each section needs its own set of building permits and permissions.

The SŽDC is also looking at the construction of several tunnels on the train route such as one in Dejvice to minimize the impact on surrounding buildings, but the cost effectiveness would have to be demonstrated as tunnels would add significantly to the cost of the project.

EU money for the projects can be drawn until 2023 under the transportation operational program. EU funds have already been drawn for the Negrelli viaduct project.

The station at Kladno will also undergo a large renovation so it can handle more passengers. Park and Ride lots are also part of the project, to encourage people to use railways instead of cars to get to and from Prague.

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