"Ukončete, prosím, výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají." noteThe 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 v Praze. 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.
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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 of 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.
Lines of Prague Metro
- 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, and in its northwest via Petrin Hill to Motol Hospital which is scheduled to open in 2014. Southeastern extensions are supposed to become bifurcations and a northeastern extension to Vaclav Havel Airport has been dropped for in favor of upgrading the existing suburban rail to Kladno.
- Line B (yellow), northeast to southwest, opened 1985 from Sokolovska (now Florenc) to Smichov Station, extensions followed in its southwest 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.
A new line D (blue) is supposed to be built from Pisnice via Pankrac to Namesti Miru, likely to Prague Central Station as well. 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. Construction is scheduled for 2017 to 2022 for the southern stub to Pankrac. After that, extension to Central Station is very probable, but the further course is debatable and two options are actually plausible. The shorter and seemingly more elegant solution on the map would be an extension to Namesti Republiky, making line D cross with every other line and taking the triangle transfer design to the next level. The drawback is the lack of a sensible extension route due north. The alternative would be heading due east via Zizkov and Vysocany to Kbely in the northeast and is also written into land-use planning. A line E (pink) has been conceived as a circle line, starting clockwise from Pankrac (C/D), the first stretch going cross-river to Smichov Station. Furthermore, 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.
Esko (commuter rail)
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 metropolitan 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. note The Czechs indeed have to make up for lost time. Rail was a foreign body to the otherwise integrated public transport system and employed different fare systems, leading to redundant services along some rail lines. Fare integration happened in the 1990s, but the major boost only came with the 2002 flood when vital parts of the Metro were flooded note and people at one time depended on the classic, albeit unsexy railway. 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. Besides Prague Central Station, Masaryk Terminal is an important end point for many northern lines, other lines may end in Smichov Station in the southwest and Vrsovice Station in the southeast. Holesovice Station is actually not important at all and only gets served by a tangential line. 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 Metro sub-tropes
- Ascetic Aesthetic: Very stylish Communist architecture, with lots of marble while still looking no-frills.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: An acoustic version deserves special mention as the trains on each line have their own speakers for public service announcement.
- 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.
- Older Than They Think: Exchange triangles didn't only come with the Soviets.
- Rule 34: One of the oldest entries at an adult video sharing site under the tagline "Prague" features somebody stripping while riding the subway.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: Back in Communist times, quite a few stations weren't so much named for their surroundings as for ideological reasons. These names were largely scrapped for more neutral location names in 1990. Remnants of that era are I. P. Pavlova station (as in Pavlov reflex) and also Křižíkova after the "Czech Edison" František Křižík.