Full steam ahead for 2015 Czech rail network investment

Photo: Jiří Němec

The body that runs the Czech Republic’s rail network is ready to make a record investment this year, the business daily E15 reported on Thursday. This is good news for construction firms but passengers will see an unprecedented number of diversions.

Photo: Jiří Němec
Správa železniční dopravní cesty, or the Railway Infrastructure Administration, has CZK 36 billion at its disposal to spend on upgrading the country’s rail network – one of the densest in the whole of Europe – in 2015, spokesman Marek Illiaš told E15.

That figure is almost three times higher than the amount spent on the network last year. Never before has the Railway Infrastructure Administration had those kinds of finances at its disposal for the modernisation of the rail network, Illiaš said.

The fact the Railway Infrastructure Administration is able to spend so much is the result of a fortunate set of coincidences, E15 writes. Due to the fact it had relatively small alternative projects in the pipeline, the rail operator has been able to access European Union funding that had previously been earmarked for road construction.

The development will be music to the ears of construction companies, as alongside ongoing projects the state is planning to launch fresh building works at a value of roughly CZK 20 billion.

These new projects include linking a fourth corridor from Prague’s Hostivař to the city’s Main Train Station at a cost of CZK 4.5 billion and upgrading a section between Sudoměřice and Votice on the same line at CZK 6 billion. Smaller tenders for this year have already been held and the SŽDC has begun making payments to a number of firms including Skanska (also a major player on the Czech road construction market), Elektrizace železnic Praha and the Slovak company TSS Grade.

One reason that railway construction has been gathering steam is that this year is the last time it is possible to draw funds from an old Transport Operational Programme. The amount left in that particular kitty is CZK 25 billion and the Railway Infrastructure Administration is keen to get its hands on the lot, says E15.

CZK 25 billion is slightly more than the amount still available to the analogous agency Ředitelství silnic a dálnic, or the Road and Motorway Directorate. However, experts in the transport field say the rail operator has a greater chance of successfully accessing the money on offer.

This is because the Railway Infrastructure Administration’s projects are better prepared and face fewer hurdles when it comes to the purchase of land. What’s more, says spokesman Illiaš, its construction works are already up and running.

While the news is good for building firms, for many passengers the unprecedented investment is likely to mean a record number of diversions, E15 writes.