Metro A marks 40 years of service

Historical trains run on Aug. 12 to celebrate the anniversary

Prague's Metro A line is turning 40 years old. Operations began Aug. 12, 1978, from Lenin station (Leninova) to Náměstí Míru. Leninova is now called Dejvická.

If people are experiencing a bit of déjà vu, and asking if the metro just had its 40th birthday a few years ago, the answer is yes. The Metro C line began operations May 9, 1974. Metro B opened last, on Nov. 2, 1985. Why they opened in the order C-A-B is not explained.

A wall with the image if Lenin is still at Dejvická, but hidden behind one of the stores that line the walls of the upper vestibule.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) run the original model 81-71 trains in four-car configurations, with drivers in period uniforms. This took place Aug. 12 starting at 11:45 am from Dejvická and went to Náměstí Míru, and back in the opposite direction. The last ride left Dejvická at 3:10 pm, and in the opposite direction leaves Náměstí Míru at 2:56 pm.

The Soviet-built 81-71 trains, made in the 1970s, are still used across Central and Eastern Europe. Some 93 sets in Prague have been modernized and are still used on the Metro A and B lines. Metro C uses trains of a new design called M1.

The A line now covers 17.13 kilometers and going from one end to the other takes 32 minutes. The line can carry 20,320 people per hour. The original segment that opened in 1978 ran just 4.7 kilometers.

The A line has a unified station design using anodized aluminum square plates with convex and concave patterns, but in different colors for each stop. New lighting was also developed.

The aluminum squares were designed by architect Jaroslav Otruba, while the colors for the stations comes from the workshop of Jiří Rathouský.

The metal plates are 50 cm tall and wide, and 4.5 cm deep.

The plates are designed to create an optical effect with the shadows in the convex and concave parts, and also to reduce the noise of the trains by deflecting the sound waves.

Most of the older stations on the A line are decorated in champagne color squares, broken by a bar of three shades of one color. Flora and Jiří z Poděbrad use different patterns.

Colors are unique to each station and used by passengers for orientation. There is some speculation about meanings in the colors, such as blue for peace at Náměstí Míru or red for the communism at Staroměstská, but these explanations are not official.

Construction of the first segment of Metro A started in 1973. This included a tunnel connecting Metro A line with the already existing Line C at the Muzeum station.

The A line expanded several times, from Náměstí Míru to Želivského in 1980, Želivského to Strašnická in 1987, Strašnická to Skalka in 1990, and then after a long break from Skalka to Depo Hostivař in 2006. Expansion in the other direction from Dejvická to Nemocnice Motol was finished in 2015. The line now has a total of 17 stations.

US cable news channel CNN in 2014 listed Staroměstská among the 12 most impressive stations in Europe.

The A line had its worst crisis during the floods of 2002. The flood emergency was declared Aug. 12, 2002 and on the night of Aug., 13–14, water broke through the protective barriers at Nádraží Holešovice on the C line. This eventually spread to the other lines causing the A line to close from Dejvická to Náměstí Míru. Restoring full operations took until Christmas 2002.

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