The arched railway bridge linking Prague’s Karlín and Holešovice districts will come back to life June 1, 2020 when train traffic begins.
Repairs to the Negrelli Viaduct (Negrelliho viadukt) began in 2017, after five years of preparation, and will cost some 1.44 billion CZK to repair 1.5 kilometers. Work being done by the Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC) includes complete replacement of the superstructure, 3.3 kilometers of rails (in two directions), and obsolete signal equipment.
Trains will be able to travel at up to 60 km/hour, which will significantly speed train traffic to and from the city.
All 99 arches have been repaired, including eight that cross the Vltava river. Reconstruction work on the vaults was more extensive than originally planned. Two steel bridges have also been completed. The arches over the Vltava are made of granite, while the others are sandstone or a combination of brick and sandstone.
The structure is a protected landmark, so the restoration had to maintain the original look and preserve as much of the original material as possible. An elevated service house and a sluice gate were preserved.
The SŽDC has also placed new anti-vibration mats on the viaduct to reduce the noise of passing trains. These prevent the transmission of vibration to the structure itself, and makes for more comfortable and quieter trains.
Work on the stone lining of the bridge is almost complete. “The masonry and finishing work is still in progress. For us, the goal is to complete the load-bearing structure in order to allow the installation of gravel and subsequently a grating. Of course, work under the bridge will continue, basically until the end of next year,” SŽDC’s Ondřej Göpfert said.
The original start date for train traffic was set for at the beginning of 2020, but work went slower than planned due to the poor condition of the arches.
Cafes, shops, and do-it-yourself workshops are expected to be among the tenants. The idea is to make something similar to what will open up in the renovated cubicles at Náplavka or the public spaces in Kasárna Karlín. The space under the arches was previously used for parking. A new square will also be created in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood.
The arches under the viaduct are being set up with infrastructure so they can be used for commercial purposes in the future. This will be handled by City Hall and the city districts, not the SŽDC.
Repairs were planned to start in 2010 but had been delayed several times for financial reasons.
The Negrelli Viaduct was built between 1846 and 1849, and trains began to run on it in the summer of 1850. It connects Masarykovo nádraží and Bubny, on the opposite side of the Vltava.
At 1,110 meters it was the longest bridge of its kind in Europe until 1910. It is currently the longest railroad bridge and the third-longest bridge in the Czech Republic. It was designed by engineer Alois Negrelli, for whom it is named.
It is Prague’s first railway bridge and Prague’s second-oldest bridge of any kind across the Vltava, after Charles Bridge, which dates to the 14th century.