Ministry backs airport rail link plan but Prague 6 says section must be below ground

Václav Havel international airport, photo: archive of Radio Prague

The Czech Transport Ministry has backed a plan for a railway link from Prague’s Masaryk train station to Václav Havel international airport. Under the plan, the link will run at least partially underground in Prague 6. From there, trains will continue above ground along track branching off to Kladno, outside of Prague and to the airport itself. The project is slated to cost around 18 billion crowns.

Václav Havel international airport, photo: archive of Radio Prague
Transport Minister Dan Ťok announced the ministry has opted for a mixed above/ below ground rail link option after meeting with the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová.

The rub is how much of the route will be above. Prague 6 is pushing for the connection to Veleslavín from Dejvice, to be entirely underground and is making clear it is ready for a fight. In an interview for Czech Radio, the mayor of Prague 6, Ondřej Kolár outlined key concerns about the link being built above ground up to Veleslavín. In his view, that would place an enormous burden on the nearby residential area and he made clear he was not in favour of three or five metre-tall noise barriers being introduced.

But the Transport minister says running the link through a longer stretch of tunnel in the area was not economically viable, saying it would add between 3 and 3.5 billion crowns to the price tag. As a compromise, Mayor Krnáčová said the construction project could be divided into two phases, starting with construction of the line from Veleslavín to the airport and Kladno aboveground – where there is no disagreement.

That would give city planners more time to hammer out agreement on the rest of the route. The mayor of Prague 7, Jan Čižinský, meanwhile, confirmed there was agreement over plans for the rail link in Bubny and Stromovka Park.

Once the route is built, trains on the new link to the airport should run between 60 and a maximum 80 kilometres per hour, and outside the city, 120. The city is looking to European funds for financing.