New train tunnels planned for Prague

The city's rail infrastructure is outdated but changes are years away

Train travel to Prague is increasing, but the current tracks are at capacity so the times between trains can't be reduced any further. In 2016, some 120,827 people used trains in Prague on an average day. This was up from 96,480 people per day in 2011. One solution to increasing the number of trains would be more tunnels.

Improved train service would benefit the city, according to an urban development plan that City Hall approved late last year. The plan calls for new train stations and Eden and Zahradní Město, but rail proponents say more needs to be done.

The growing popularity of trains means that trains are becoming crowded, and crowded trains could discourage people from using them. Adding more trains would solve the problem. Filip Drápal, spokesman for transport organizer Ropid, said that a significant investment is needed to increase train service, and that new tracks or entirely new lines are needed.

Preparations are in the earliest stages, so far. The historical growth of the city also makes it difficult for more tracks to be brought into the city center. A plan for new tunnels under the city called Nové spojení II, or New Connections II, was developed between 2006 and '09, but little progress has been made in implementing it. The plan is similar to ones implemented in London, Zurich and Leipzig. The plan envisions a connection between Praha hlavní nádraží and Smíchovské nádraží, and another link from Praha hlavní nádraží that forks into Michle and Eden. In the north, service would be extended from Výstaviště Praha to Veleslavín. Several new rail stations in the city would be created. One would be at Karlovo náměstí. A large transfer point would be near Wenceslas Square, and is currently called Opera.

Prague Deputy Mayor Petra Kolínská (Trojkoalice/Greens), responsible for spacial development, said the plan was being taken into account. So far, there is not a consensus on it among experts. The construction costs would be in the tens of billions of Czech crowns.

Marek Zděradička of the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) told the media that Prague has 19th century rail infrastructure, and it needs to be brought up to at least 20th century levels. The projects under consideration are still years away though, he added.

If the Ministry of Transportation, however, decides to move ahead with plans for high-speed rail to Prague, then the proposed tunnels under the city would become a priority.

The Nové spojení II plan can be seen here www.sudop.cz

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