Politicians call for high-speed rail

Legislation to allow for fast international trains needed

High-speed rail that will make it possible to get from Prague to Brno in an hour is possible, but the biggest hurdle is legislation. Such a project has been discussed for years.

Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said at the Railway Conference Pardubice 2017 that raising funds for high-speed rail was not the problem, whether or not EU resources could be used. The issue is to create legislation to allow for it to be done quickly. It is also important to determine where the best routes will lead.

Pardubice MP Martin Kolovratník (ANO) said it was important that the Chamber of Deputies recently adopted a resolution calling for the government to make preparations so high-speed rail could start to be built in 2025. “I am convinced we should have had high-speed lines already for a long time because they are important. The Czech Republic must first solve the necessary legislation and prepare specific projects with technical solutions and the parameters of the track,” Kolovratník said, according to Pražský deník.

The rail routes would be international, and would have to be coordinated with neighboring countries. Joining capitals is a priority. For journeys of less than 700 kilometers, high-speed rail can be faster than air travel, and more convenient as the trains go directly to the city center. Prague to Berlin is only 280 kilometers, for example.

Preparations are the most progressed on a link from Berlin to Dresden to Ústí nad Labem to Prague. Another route being considered is Prague to Brno. From there, the route could either go further south to Vienna or turn north to Ostrava and then go to Poland.

The Czech Republic has had Pendolino trains capable of traveling at above-average speed on existing tracks since 2005, though these are not high-speed trains in the classical sense. The trains have been approved for use in Slovakia and briefly had a route to Austria, but never were approved to go to Germany. Currently there are routes from Prague to Olomouc, Ostrava, Mariánské Lázně, Plzeň, Poprad and Košice.

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