New Prague metro line to feature automated trains

Illustrative photo: Filip Jandourek

Prague’s new planned metro line “D” will feature automated (or driverless) trains, according to the Czech News Agency. The first part of the ambitious project is to be completed by the year 2022. The decision was taken by councillors at Prague City Hall on Tuesday. Previous plans greenlighted by the former administration of Mayor Tomáš Hudeček, counted on drivers, but cutting them out of the equation would apparently lower operational costs.

Illustrative photo: Filip Jandourek
The original proposal for the line “D” passed by the former leadership at Prague City Hall counted on a bill of some 30 billion crowns, the Czech News Agency reports, That has now been changed; although it is clear the costs will still run in the tens of billions of crowns, the choice for an automated subway system on line D was an apparent move to save money later on down the line.

The proposed new “D” line would eventually run all the way to Naměstí republiky in Prague city centre, from Nusle, Pankrác, Krč, where there is a major hospital and beyond: a twin tail snaking off into two branches at the end in the outskirts, Modřany, and a station to be called Depo Písnice. According to iDnes, Prague’s Public Transport Company is already preparing plans for the buying up needed land along the route; the value of land bought for public infrastructure projects, it should be noted, differs from private deals.

Opponents at City Hall would be happiest if the project screeched to a halt. The fear is that hidden or unexpected economic costs will bump up at the price tag significantly after ground is broken. Speaking to ČTK, Filip Humplík, the head of the Prague branch of the centre-right Civic Democrats, called the project “megalomaniacal” and ultimately not financeable. He argued that construction on a smaller portion of Line “D” should begin with more modest goals: from Pankrác to Nové Dvory, a smaller section which could be completed “as is” and capped if the project ran into trouble or ran out of funds.

If construction of the new line goers according to plans, it will begin in three years’ time.