Prague’s iconic 120-year-old Railway Bridge to undergo renovation not demolition

The bridge, once known as "Connecting Railway Bridge of Emperor Franz Josef" will keep its distinctive look; a new tram stop is planned below Vyšehrad.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 27.01.2021 11:45 (updated on 27.01.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Railway Bridge in Prague between Smíchov and Výton will be renovated. The Czech Railway Administration (SŽ) will announce an architectural competition in March. In the past, demolition had been considered due to the poor state of the iron bridge.

The repairs will also to cover the area in front of the bridge, where a new tram stop is planned on the Výtoň side, just below Vyšehrad. The bridge will also newly have three tracks. More details will be announced when the competition in published in March.

In the past, SŽ considered demolishing the bridge and building a new one, and sought to remove the bridge’s protection as a cultural monument. However, last year the Ministry of Culture decided the bridge would remain a monument.

Prague Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr, responsible for transport, has been in favor of preserving the bridge. He said that the conservationists had already agreed that the structure would be extended by a third track, on the north side. He also said conservationists approved a plan to create a new railway station on Výtoň with a transfer to public transport.

Several options for solving the poor technical condition of the bridge had been considered before it was decided to renovate the structure. These included a proposal for its demolition and the construction of a new bridge for trains and cars, the construction of a replica, or a proposal to build a new structure on the current pillars.

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Last year, the Czech Technical University’s (ČVUT) Klokner Institute recommended that the railway administration not repair the bridge and replace it with a new one. However, the Ministry of Culture stated last year that its restoration is possible without it losing its monumental value or ceasing to serve its purpose.

View from Vyšehrad with the Railway Bridge and Prague Castle. (photo: Raymond Johnston)
View from Vyšehrad with the Railway Bridge and Prague Castle. (photo: Raymond Johnston)

The bridge over the Vltava was built in 1871 as a single-track steel bridge with five spans on stone piers. It was rebuilt in 1901 with two tracks and three parabolic steel spans to meet the traffic demand. It was electrified in 1928. In 2004, it was declared a landmark.

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The bridge has a unique design in the Czech Republic. People in favor of preserving the bridge claim that its outline has been an integral part of the Prague waterfront for over a century.

The pedestrian walkways were repaired between 2017 and 2019 due to their poor condition.

It originally had the unwieldy name Most spojovací dráhy císaře Františka Josefa, meaning Connecting Railway Bridge of Emperor Franz Josef. Currently is is simply called the Railway Bridge or Vyšehrad Railway Bridge (Vyšehradský železniční most).

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The condition of all of Prague’s bridges came into focus when the Troja footbridge collapsed in December 2017. That bridge has now been replaced with a new one.

Almost one-fifth of the 700 bridges in Prague were found to be in poor, very poor or emergency condition, according to a 2018 report submitted to City Hall’s Transportation Committee by the Technical Roadways Administration (TSK). The Libeň Bridge (Libeňský most) was among the ones found to be in the most dire condition.

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