A legendary TGV arrives in Czechia to promote a high-speed rail project

Photo: Michal Kamaryt, ČTK

Hundreds of people turned out on Monday to see the legendary ten-car French high-speed train arrive at Prague’s main station. Although it was decommissioned in 2018, the French legend is there to promote the construction of a high-speed rail network in this country.

Although the Czech Republic has one of the densest rail networks in Europe, it completely lacks high-speed rail lines. Currently, the maximum speed of any train operating in the country is 160 km/h (100 mph), which compares sadly to the high-speed trains operating in France or Germany.

Photo: Michal Kamaryt, ČTK

Ambitious plans are currently underway to develop a high-speed rail network in the Czech Republic that would connect to existing or planned high-speed networks in neighboring countries.

The Czech National Railway Administration has presented plans for a high-speed network that would be built in 13 phases between 2025 and 2050. When completed, the network would be used by up to 130,000 passengers daily and help speed up transport international railway across Europe.

Czech railway administration chief Jiří Svoboda said he has high hopes the project will take off soon.

Jiří Svoboda and Martin Kupka |  Photo: René Volfik, iROZHLAS.cz

“Preparations are really moving forward more than ever. The network should eventually connect Dresden, Wroclaw, Katowice, Bratislava and Vienna. We hope to complete the first section from Prague to Brno in ten years. The project is expected to cost about 700 billion, and it will cost about 40 billion crowns per year.

When the network is fully operational, national high-speed trains using it are expected to travel at 320 km/h per hour. Given that it will be in 10 to 20 years, isn’t this speed limit too low – since the TGV set a record of 380 km/h in 1981? Jiří Svoboda again:

Photo: René Volfik, iROZHLAS.cz

“The concept envisages a speed of 350 km/h. You always have to have a reserve. However we think that a speed of 320 km/h is really sufficient for the distances we have. The idea is that all major cities can be reached within an hour. For example the route Prague-Brno. On the shortest journeys, this will be on the order of tens of minutes, so passengers will arrive at their destination in half the time or a third of the time it takes now.

As good as it sounds, for now the Czechs will have to make do with the Pendolino, which, due to the country’s outdated rail network, only travels at 150 km/h.

Photo: René Volfik, iROZHLAS.cz

Jose P. Rogers