Construction of the longest railway tunnel in the Czech Republic is near the final stage of completion. On 15 November, the first train will run through the southern tube of the Ejpovice tunnel. With the entry into force of the new timetable as of 9 December, operation of all trains through both tubes will start and passenger will thus be able to appreciate the most substantial of the construction’s assets – shorter journey times between Plzeň and Prague.
On 21 September, the Czech Prime Minister Mr Andrej Babiš visited the construction site together with the Minister of Transport Mr Dan Ťok and the Director General of Správa železniční dopravní cesty (SŽDC) Mr Jiří Svoboda in order to be informed of the current progress of this project.
”The tunnel being finished just now will allow a speed of 160 kph which is nowadays the highest speed possible on the Czech railway. However, the tunnel’s route is designed for high-speed operation in the future so that trains will be able to achieve a speed up to 200 kph“, said Mr Dan Ťok, Minister of Transport of the Czech Republic.
“The tunnel is part of a relocation which will shorten the line between Plzeň and Rokycany by 6.1 kilometres. Its construction together with increasing line speed will have a substantial impact on shorter travel time between Prague and Plzeň. On average, the journey time will be reduced by nine minutes, for tilting trains by 10 minutes“, explained Mr Jiří Svoboda, Director General of SŽDC. As he added, railway operation safety will increase as well as travelling comfort for passengers and ensure a required line capacity.
The Ejpovice tunnel is exceptional not only in length (each of the tubes is more than four kilometres long), but also by way of other components. A slab track is laid down in the tubes – the trackage is not embedded in the ballast but fixed within special concrete panels. If necessary, it will allow rescue service vehicles to arrive. Emphasis is placed on ensuring safety in the tunnels; train operation will be supervised by the most modern technology available. The tunnelling of the southern tube began in February 2015 and took 15 months. The tunnelling of the northern tube was started in September 2016 and was completed last October.
The modernised line section Rokycany – Plzeň is a part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and is situated on the western branch of the Czech Rail Transit Corridor III Prague – Plzeň – Cheb – state border with Germany. Total investment costs of the construction amount to CZK 6.783 billion. The project is being co-financed by the EU from its Cohesion Fund under the Operational Programme Transport. The contribution provided by the EU amounts to CZK 3.520 billion. The construction supplier is an association consisting of the companies Metrostav and Subterra.