Legendary TGV train arrives in Czechia to promote high-speed rail project

The legendary French high-speed TGV train, which set a speed record of 380 km/h in 1981, has arrived in the Czech Republic where it will be on display to the public in Prague, Brno, Jihlava, and Ústí nad Labem until June 9. Its loan from France for nine million crowns is part of a promotion campaign for the construction of a high-speed rail network in the Czech Republic.

Photo: Michal Kamaryt,  ČTK

Hundreds of people turned out to see the legendary ten-car French high-speed train arrive at Prague’s Main Railway Station on Monday. Although it was taken out of service in 2018, the French legend is here to promote the construction of a high-speed rail network in this country.

Although the Czech Republic boasts one of the densest rail networks in Europe, it completely lacks high-speed rail routes. Presently the maximum speed of any train running in the country is 160km/h (100mph), which presents a sorry comparison to the high-speed trains running in France or Germany.

Photo: Michal Kamaryt,  ČTK

Ambitious plans are now being made to develop a high-speed rail network in the Czech Republic which would link up with existing or planned high-speed networks in neighbouring countries.

The Czech national rail administration has presented plans for a high-speed network which would be built in 13 phases between 2025 and 2050. When complete the network would be used by up to 130,000 passengers a day and help speed up international rail transport across Europe.

The head of Czech Rail Administration Jiří Svoboda says he has high hopes the project will take off soon.

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

“Preparations are really moving ahead now more than ever. The network should eventually link up to Dresden, Wroclaw, Katowice, Bratislava and Vienna. We hope to have the first section from Prague to Brno finished in ten years’ time. The project should cost about 700 billion, and it will involve spending about 40 billion crowns a year.”

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

Photo: René Volfík,  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 that we have. The idea is that all the big cities should be reachable within one hour. For instance the Prague-Brno route. On the shorter legs it will be in the order of tens of minutes, so passengers will get to their destination in half the time or a third of the time it takes now.”

Good as that sounds, for the time being Czechs will have to make do with the Pendolino, which due to the country’s outdated rail network only runs at 150km/h.

Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz
Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Tomáš Pancíř
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