A new section of Prague metro’s A-line opened to the public on Monday with champagne, a buffet and a concert by the Tap Tap Orchestra. The four new stations –Bořislavka, Nádraží Veleslavín, Petřiny and Motol – have extended the A-line (the oldest line of the metro) from Dejvice to Motol, the site of the biggest hospital in Prague. The new stretch, which cost approximately 20 billion crowns, will also service passengers heading for Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport.
Thousands of people crowded into the four newly opened metro stations on Easter Monday, the vast majority of them residents of Prague 6 –for whom this means a faster and more comfortable link to the city centre and indeed faster access to any part of Prague covered by the metro. Two transport nodes on the extended green line are considered crucial – Nádraží Veleslavín which is to facilitate the link to Vaclav Havel Airport and Motol, the terminal station that ends at the gates of Prague’s largest hospital.
Earlier plans for the metro to lead all the way to the city’s main international airport were abandoned, partly due to excessive cost with the city promising to modernize a rail track to the airport instead, which would provide a high degree of comfort at a smaller expense. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who together with Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová and representatives of Prague City Transport, opened the new stretch of the green line, promised that state money and EU funds would continue to flow to further improve the city’s infrastructure. He reiterated his promise that the government would back the construction of a projected D-line which would link up the city’s southern and northern districts. The city’s plans envisage the first stretch of the new D-line opening sometime at around 2022.
Meanwhile, the first passengers to use the new stretch of the A-line made a close inspection of the newly opened stations and found a number of failings. For instance, the main exit for passengers to the airport at Veleslavín lacks an escalator which will have to be added in due time. There is a lack of parking lots in the vicinity of the stations which would encourage out-of-town drivers not to drive into the city center and, last but not least, the stone stairs leading down to the lobby of Bořislavka station are not covered by roofing – a lapse that a snow shower highlighted on the day of the opening as an employee promptly brought out a broom and bucket to dry the entrance. Nevertheless, the mood was festive and Prague’s residents could congratulate themselves on the fact that, unlike the now infamous tunnel Blanka whose opening has been postponed over and over again, the new stretch of the Prague metro is up and running.