"Ukončete, prosím, výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají." note
(NB: The initial author of these lines doesn't have access to a Czech or likewise keyboard, feel free to amend the missing diacritics, i.e. accents and the like, if it's on your mind. Thank you!)
The Czech capital of Prague has an extensive system of public transport. Besides busses, the world-renowned trams made by Tatra (or lately Škoda) and the relatively young commuter rail Esko, there's also the big ABC of public transport
that forms its backbone, the Metro. According to The Other Wiki
, the Prague Metro is the most-used subway worldwide on a per capita basis
. Its service starts at 4:00 to 5:00 in the morning until 24:00 (Sunday to Thursday nights) or 1:00 (Friday and Saturday nights) and runs every 2-3 minutes at rush hour. Nightcrawlers will have to depend on special night-time tram lines numbered from 50 to 59, busses likewise go from 500 onwards.
Plans for a subway date back to the turn of the century and especially inter-war Czechoslovakia, already featuring plans for a secant-system with three lines and three transfer stations between them
that would later become typical for subway systems in the Communist East Block, the city layout just fit to it. Making it a completely underground system was a decision that was made very late, however. Before the war, it should be a combined elevated and underground system akin to Berlin or, how it was intended to become when construction started in 1966, a light rail system connected to overground tram lines in the city's outskirts. But in 1967, it was decided that the digging should result in a full-fledged underground system due to Soviet influence.
The first stretch of line C from Sokolovska (today Florenc) to Kacerov was opened in 1974 and built not quite as deep as later lines with the cut-and-cover method as Prague yet had to make experiences in tunnel building. The lines A (opened 1978) and B (opened 1985) on the other hand were built with tunnel-boring machines, deep enough to have impressively long escalators and for their stations to serve a secondary role as nuclear fallout shelters in the case World War III
, just how it was supposed to be in the East Block. After Hole in Flag
, several stations changed their names as the old ones reminded too much of Communism. And in 2002, the Metro was flooded in the centennial high waters that affected much of Central Europe.
The lines of Prague Metro
Project Line D
- Line A (green), northwest to southeast, opened 1978 from Leninova (now Dejvicka) to Namesti Miru (Peace Square), extended in its southeast to Zelivskeho (1980), Strasnicka (1987), Skalka (1990) and finally to Depo Hostivar in 2006. Currently undergoing a northwestern extension via Petrin Hill to Motol Hospital which is scheduled to open in 2014. It's supposed to be extended to Vaclav Havel Airport until about 2020. Southeastern extensions are supposed to become bifurcations.
- Line B (yellow), northeast to southwest, opened 1985 from Sokolovska (now Florenc) to Smichov Station, extensions followed in its soutwest to Dukelska (now Nove Butovice, 1988) and Zlicin (1994) and in its northeast to CKD (now Ceskomoravska, 1990) and Cerny Most (1998), the last extension featuring two stations that were only completed later.
- Little fun fact: The two IKEA stores at the edges of Prague are in Zlicin and Cerny Most, the two termini of line B.
- Line C (red), north(-east) to south(-east), opened in 1974 from Sokolovska (now Florenc) to Kacerov, the most important lifeline of the whole system and understandably the first one to be reinstated after the 2002 floods. The first extension to Kosmonautu (now Haje, 1980) was supposed to access populous housing projects in Prague's south. All other extensions went north, however: Starting with the first underpass of the Vltava river to Holesovice Station (1984), later crossing it a second time to Ladvi (2004) and finally the extension to Letnany in 2008.
After the extension of line A to Motol, a new line D (blue) is supposed to be built from Pisnice via Pankrac to Namesti Miru, likely to Prague Central Station as well. Construction could be started in 2015 and the southern stub to Pankrac could already open before 2020, further construction to Namesti Miru could be completed by 2025. It was initially conceived in Communist times as a mere bifurcation from line C to access housing projects in the straight south of Prague, but redesigned as an own line after it became obvious that line C wouldn't cope with the added traffic.
In the very long run, it may extend eastward via Zizkov and Vysocany to Kbely in the northeast. An alternate iteration would lead from Central Station to Namesti Republiky and extended the perfect exchange triangle with even another layer, resulting in all four lines intersecting with one another in perfect pairs with nothing added. Construction of line D will be performed under a public-private partnership, i.e. private investors will dig the line on their own expense and will likewise run it for profit, albeit subsidized by the public to ensure unitary fares until the line will have become public property after some decades. It's the only way to make line D a reality without breaking public coffers
Further prospective lines
Commuter rail - the Esko
- A line E (pink) has been conceived as a circle line, starting clockwise from Pankrac (C/D).
- Two lines F (gray) and G (brown) are designated in the land-use plan of Prague with the prospect of being built until 2100. One could assume that a new metro line is supposed to be inaugurated every 25 years. Line F would primarily serve the left bank of the Vltava River in a strictly north-south fashion and the line G would cross Prague in an east-west manner.
Just as Britain Is Only London
, Prague and its central Bohemian hinterland make up the backbone of the Czech Republic, economically, culturally and anything else what makes a primate city. But only in 2007 did Prague with its environs get what other metropolitain areas in Europe take for granted, a system of commuter rail akin to the German S-Bahn or French RER systems. They labeled them Esko
It's still a work in progress, many of the Esko lines are still regional trains that merely got relabeled while others meet the classical S-Bahn criteria (electrified, clock-face scheduling, max. 30 minute headway) and are preferably run with blue and red ČD Class 471 trains called "City Elefant
". A very important pre-condition for the introduction of Esko services was the construction of the Nové spojení
(New Connection) that greatly improved connections between Prague's northern railways and Prague Central Station.
Most Esko trains either end in Prague Masaryk Terminal or end or run through Prague Central Station which is considered to be of too little capacity to make Masarykova obsolete. Many lines differentiate between S-trains and R-trains, with the S-trains stopping everywhere and the R-trains skipping several stops to only serve the most important stations on their way and therefore provide faster connections.
Prague is suffering a severe investment bottleneck when it comes to railroads and many pressure groups (among them the "Center For Effective Transport"
) desire a so-called "New Connection II" which would only have been an underground railroad link between Smichov in the southwest and Karlin in the northeast in its simplest iteration (as envisioned by the Czech Railways), but has evolved to also include another link from (northwestern) Bubny to (southeastern) Vrsovice. These two "crossrails" are supposed to run parallel between Florenc (near Masarykova, under- and overground flyover stations) and Wenceslas Square (connections to Central Station et al., four-track underground station).
And it's not as if it weren't necessary. These "experts" from the pressure groups envision up to 13 lines running through Prague, but a single track can only take a train every two minutes in practice and if every line is supposed a serve every 15 or 20 minutes, it only takes six to eight scheduled lines to make any connection of that kind a bottleneck beyond repair. If we look at the motherland of commuter/metro hybrids, we'll see that:
- Munich is building a second connection parallel to the original because of this.
- Frankfurt is passing just eight of its nine S-Bahn lines through its connection.
- Stuttgart with its six lines in its connection prospects to build a bypass among its northern feeder lines in order to also access another north-south connection (Gäubahn) in the city's west that will be void of its current function once the Stuttgart 21 project will be completed.
So it's only logical that the Praguers wouldn't wait for the known inevitable problems to come first, but rather solve them from the start. If said two crossrail connections even serve distinct enough directions, yet still easily cross for exchange purposes, there would be hardly anything to complain.
Prague Metro sub-tropes
- Development Hell: Both in the past and the future. It took at least half a century from the first serious draft to the grand opening of the current system. And Prague is at least planning to build four new metro lines until 2100.
- Ear Worm: "Ukončete, prosím, výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají."
- Executive Meddling: By the Soviets. While its city layout predestined Prague for the secant-system that's so ubiquitous in the former East Block, the Metro was initially planned as a light rail, albeit with very long underground sections. Most striking, however, was the reinforcement of the Nusle bridge featuring among others a stretch of line C between I. P. Pavlova and Vysehrad that was only necessitated by the USSR's demand to employ heavy Soviet metro trains instead of a lighter home production made by Tatra. The basis for this was a cooperation treaty between the USSR and Czechoslovakia, they had the expertise after all.
- Not in My Backyard!: It would have been so much cheaper to upgrade the existing Prague-Kladno railway to modern standards in order to access Vaclav Havel Airport, but don't tell this the residents of precincts V and VI in the northwest of Prague that were rather afraid of train noises harassing their good neighborhoods. That's why line A currently gets extended
- Rule 34: One of the oldest entries at an adult video sharing site under the tagline "Prague" features somebody stripping while riding the subway.
- Scenery Porn: Very stylish Communist architecture, with lots of marble while still looking no-frills.