Czech Railway Administration plans high-speed train from Prague to Poland

The new feasibility study will compare six possible routes utilizing dedicated high-speed tracks.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 19.11.2020 12:39 (updated on 19.11.2020)

Getting from Prague to Poland could become a lot faster in the future. The Czech Railway Administration (SŽ) is planning a 350 km/h high-speed train route to the neighboring country. This will be the fourth of five planned high-speed lines that have entered the feasibility study phase.

The first section of the route to Poland would run parallel to the D11 motorway from Prague to Hradec Králové. After that, six options to the reach the Polish border are being evaluated.

The Railway Administration (SŽ) announced earlier this month that it was holding a competition to find a contractor to prepare a CZK 20 million feasibility study for the route from Prague to Hradec Králové to Wrocław, Poland. Implementing the new route, however, will take decades.

The study will evaluate the project’s economic impact and propose the most suitable routes. Six options for the section of the route from Hradec Králové to Wrocław will be evaluated.

There are three places where the rail line can enter Poland. SŽ spokeswoman Radka Pistoriusová told daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) that the route would have to reach Poland at one of three border points: Královec / Lubawka, Meziměstí / Mieroszów or Petříkovice / Okrzeszyn.

Two of the six route options will follow existing railway lines. The first links Hradec Králové to the Polish border at Královec and the second crosses the Polish border at Meziměstí. In both cases, the Railway Administration counts on modernizing parts of the existing route so that trains can reach 250 km/h.

The other four options consider completely new routes crossing into Poland at Petříkovice or near Královec. These routes will be considered for either passenger-only service or mixed passenger and freight service.

The portion of the high-speed route between Prague and Hradec Králové is more clear. Trains will run toward Poříčany, where a high-speed rail pilot project is already planned.

SŽ’s Pistoriusová told MfD the feasibility study would take 18 months, and then territorial development principles in the individual regions would need to be updated. The route construction should begin in 2025 with a pilot section between Prague and Poříčany in the Kolín district. Subsequent construction on the section between Hradec Králové and Poland is expected around 2040.

According to the government plan, the basic network of five high-speed lines will cost about CZK 650 billion. The costs of other planned high-speed rail lines, though, have risen dramatically after feasibility studies were conducted. Due to that, the Railway Administration is not commenting on the estimated cost of the Prague to Poland route until it has more information.

Czech Railways (ČD) since 2005 has had high-speed routes using Italian-made Pendolino trains, but these only reach a top speed of 237 km/h using existing tracks. Critics say that the trains really shouldn’t be billed as high-speed because they lack dedicated tracks and the speeds aren’t comparable to other services, such as France’s TVG, which has a top speed of 574.8 km/h.

The Italian-made Pendolino trains operating in the Czech Republic only reach a top speed of 237 km/h using existing tracks. (photo: Wikimedia Commons / Stanislav Dusík)
The Italian-made Pendolino trains operating in the Czech Republic only reach a top speed of 237 km/h using existing tracks. (photo: Wikimedia Commons / Stanislav Dusík)

Pendolinos currently operate on a route between Františkovy Lázně and Bohumín in the Czech Republic and then on to Košice, Slovakia.