Prague Metro

Development of the Metro - Its History and Future

Written by
Published on 13.02.2007 12:05 (updated on 13.02.2007)

Written by James Dean

Conceptually, the Prague Metro was first born in 1898 in the mind of Ladislav Rott. He submitted a proposal to the city council to build an underground railway system while the town was undergoing extensive sewer work. The proposal was rejected, and the idea was abandoned until 1926, when Bohumil Behada and Vladimir List submitted another similar proposal, this time explicitly using the word ‘Metro´. It is to these two that the term used today can be accredited.

After their joint proposal was rejected the idea again lay dormant for a while until the 1930´s, when the current transport infrastructure required improvement. Then, plans were considered for a ‘pre-metro´ system, whereby underground routes would be constructed for trams, and the trams would run both over and under ground.

This idea was toyed with until World War II. At this stage it is believed plans were fairly advanced for a ‘pre-metro´ system, but after the War they had to be aborted owing to the state of Prague´s crippled finances.

It was not until the 1960´s that any firm plans were accepted by the city council. In 1967 construction first began at Hlavní Nádraží train station. At this stage the communist government decided that they would veer away from a ‘pre-metro´ and build a modern metro system, as a display of wealth and prosperity.

It took 7 years before the first line was completed. In 1974, line C (red) first opened, with trains running between Florenc and Kačerov. Construction on lines A (green) and B (yellow) was now well underway, and in 1978, line A opened between Dejvická and Náměstí Míru. There were now a total of 16 stations and one transfer station, Muzeum.

Work continued on the two lines and in 1980 an extension project was completed. Line A was extended to Želivského and line C to Háje, adding an additional seven stations. Vlatavská and Nádraží Holešovice were added to the red line in 1984.

Line B was not in operation until 1985, which you may find slightly surprising, considering it appears to be the oldest of the lines. A different construction technique was used on much of this line to that which had been used previously, whereby the tunnel was bored below the ground, as opposed to being pre-constructed and then dropped into the ground and covered. Most of the stations on lines A and C had been constructed using the cut and cover technique, with the exception of Náměstí Míru, which was actually the first station to be deep bored and is still the deepest at 52m.

Since 1985, line B has been extended three times. In 1988, stations Smíchovské Nádraží and Nové Butovice were added, then in 1990 the line incorporated a further four stations. Work continued and it was not until 1998 that the line covered its current route, reaching Zličín and Černý Most. Extensions of the red line stretched to Kobylisy and Ládví and were completed in 2004. Depo Hostivař was added to the green line in 2006.

The floods that afflicted much of Central Europe in August 2002 were disastrous for Prague´s Metro. Much of the system, some 19 stations, were flooded. More tram and bus routes were added in lieu of the stricken underground while a very expensive and time-consuming operation was conducted. The cost of this operation was huge, some 7 billion CZK (Є250 million). The final station was not reopened until March 2003, a full 7 months later.

In 1990, 14 Metro stations had their names changed as they were too closely linked with communism. For example, Leninova station was renamed to Dejvická, and Moskevská station became Anděl.

What does the future hold for the Metro? There are several projects underway at the moment. The first is the replacement of the old trains found on line B, this has been planned for a while and it is anticipated it will be completed by 2007.

Line C is currently being extended to the Prosek residential area in the North of the city, and three more stations (Střížkov, Prosek and Letňany) should be open by 2008. There are also plans to extend the green line further to the North-West of the city, eventually reaching Ruzyně International Airport.

There are plans for a completely new line, which will serve the South of the city and run to Hlavní Nádraží. However, there is a dispute over funding between the city council and the government which may delay plans for both this plan and the extension of the line from Dejvická. A rather provisional date of 2013 has been set for the opening of line D.

For further information, see:
The official website of Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy (Prague Public Transit Co.)
An extensive, informative site maintained by Prague “metrophiles”.