Business Czechs planning first high-speed rail line but will still lag behind

24-07-2014 14:56 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic is set to get its first high-speed rail line, iHned.cz reported on Thursday. Under a Ministry of Transport plan, work on the line between Brno and the nearby town of Přerov will get underway at the end of this decade, the news site said.

Photo: Phil Richards, CC BY-SA 2.0Photo: Phil Richards, CC BY-SA 2.0 The Czech Republic has one of the densest rail networks in the whole of Europe and the state-owned company České dráhy (Czech Railways) is one of the country’s most significant employers.

But when it comes to velocity, the Czech Republic is lagging behind a number of European states, with its fastest trains travelling at 160 kilometres an hour on routes such as those between Zábřeh na Moravě and Přerov and between Brečlav and Brno.

The country is now set to catch up at least a little bit, with plans for a high-speed line around 80 kilometres in length running between Brno and Přerov on which trains will travel at 200 kilometres an hour. At present the two cities are joined by a single line on which trains travel at around 80 kilometres an hour.

As for why that particular route will be the country’s fastest, a Ministry of Transport spokesperson told iHned.cz that the reason was simply that the line was in need of an upgrade. Work on the project will begin in the year 2019.

But any other potential new high-speed lines will require the construction of special rail corridors. For that to happen, various stakeholders would have to reach agreement, including in particular regional and local authorities, who would need to add the rail corridors to their territorial plans. For that reason, it will be the middle of the next decade at the earliest before further high-speed lines are built, the Transport Ministry said.

While trains will reach speeds of 200 kilometres an hour on the planned, relatively short route, that will still be considerably slower than Europe’s fastest lines. France and Spain, the leaders in the field on the continent, both have routes with speeds of over 310 kilometres an hour.

It is frequently argued that the Czech Republic does not require the fastest trains possible because they would hardly have pulled out of the station before they had reached their destination, iHned.cz wrote.

But Luděk Vyka of the think tank Centrum pro efektivní dopravu (Centre for Efficient Transport) disputes this. He says that for high-speed rail to be effective, it has to be twice as fast as road transport.

High-speed rail lines are required of the Czech Republic by the European Union within its Trans-European Transport Networks in Europe (TEN-T) transport infrastructure policy.

Brussels is most interested in seeing such routes being built between Berlin, Prague and Vienna and running from Poland to Vienna through Moravia, an official from the Czech Ministry for Regional Development told iHned.cz.

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