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June 30, 2010

Metro extension on right track

Construction begins on new lines but link to airport still years away

Prague’s transit authority has finally started work on the much anticipated extension of the metro A (green) line after years of division and wrangling over costs caused massive delays to the project.

But it’s not all good news for Prague residents, with a long-awaited link to Ruzyně Airport still expected to be some eight years away.

Works began on the fifth extension to the green line June 21, City Hall said. The section, expected to be finished in fall 2014, will be 5.7 kilometers long, starting at Dejvická station and ending at Motol. Three new intermediate stations will be added to the line at Červený vrch, Veleslavín and Petřiny.

“Prolonging line A for around 6 kilometers will make travel easier for tens of thousands of passengers from Prague and its surroundings,” said Prague Mayor Pavel Bém. “The new metro will serve the large residential area of Prague 6, and it will provide a quality transport service for the biggest hospital complex in Prague, the hospitals Motol and Homolka.”

Works on the Dejvická to Motol extension are expected to cost 18.7 billion Kč, with 5.5 billion Kč to be funded from a European Union operational fund and the rest to be paid by Prague City Hall.

Preparation work for the extension began at the end of the last year. Line work will mostly be conducted through a tunnel system below ground, with only the works on the Motol end station conducted above ground. Project engineers expect the new section will transport more than 6,000 people an hour during peak times. The metro transports more than 1 million passengers daily through its 57 stations.

The commencement of works on the line follows years of delays over a planned extension and eventual airport link, with arguments about costs plaguing progress. Talks about building the rail connection began around 15 years ago alongside a separate discussion about a new airport terminal. While the new terminal opened in 2006, talks about the rail extension languished.

While work on the A line have commenced, the eagerly awaited Ruzyně Airport extension is only expected to be finished in 2018. Works are expected to commence after 2014, with the A line extended another 12 kilometers to the airport and new stations at Bílá Hora, Dědina, Dlouhá Míle, Staré letiště and Letiště Ruzyně.

Authorities also say an extension of the B (yellow) line to the airport could be in the cards in addition to the A line connection.

“We want to extend the A line to Ruzyně Airport, but we are also seriously thinking about a second connection from Zličín,” said Martin Dvořák, general director of Prague Public Transit Company.

Currently, there are four bus connections to the airport from Dejvická, Nové Butovice, Stodůlky and Zličín.

Plans are also in place for a new D line, which should be in the area of Prague 4 and its surroundings. Work on this line is expected to start in 2012 or 2013.

– Filip Šenk contributed to this report.

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