The expansion of Prague’s Metro Line A
Posted: 11 May 2010 | Josef Stehlík, Strategy Department, Prague Public Transit Co. Inc. | No comments yet
Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is a large urban area with a population of almost 1.25 million living in an area of 496km2. Prague is also the centre of the Region of Central Bohemia, which has an area of approximately 11,000km2 and a population of an additional 1.25 million – the majority of whom have various ties to the capital. This fact, along with the impact of intensive tourism and other factors leading to the temporary presence of individuals, places exceptional demands on ensuring daily mobility for almost 1.5 million individuals within Prague’s city limits.
Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is a large urban area with a population of almost 1.25 million living in an area of 496km2. Prague is also the centre of the Region of Central Bohemia, which has an area of approximately 11,000km2 and a population of an additional 1.25 million - the majority of whom have various ties to the capital. This fact, along with the impact of intensive tourism and other factors leading to the temporary presence of individuals, places exceptional demands on ensuring daily mobility for almost 1.5 million individuals within Prague's city limits.
Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is a large urban area with a population of almost 1.25 million living in an area of 496km2. Prague is also the centre of the Region of Central Bohemia, which has an area of approximately 11,000km2 and a population of an additional 1.25 million – the majority of whom have various ties to the capital. This fact, along with the impact of intensive tourism and other factors leading to the temporary presence of individuals, places exceptional demands on ensuring daily mobility for almost 1.5 million individuals within Prague’s city limits. In Prague, like in other European cities, urban mass transit (UMT) plays a key role, and must develop to ensure the basic workings of a city, effective regulation of automobile traffic and the possibility of further urban development. Key transit systems that provide UMT in Prague are the subway (metro), tram and bus service, and railway transport, which has been playing an increasing role in recent years. The metro is the backbone of the transit system, addressing diametric and radial transport with all the advantages of its high carrying capacity and operational segregation. The metro transports approximately 600 million passengers per year – which is over 43% of the total passenger load of Prague UMT. Its network is currently composed of three standard underground Metro Lines – A, B and C – with a total length of 59.4km and 57 stations. Since the start of its operation in 1974, awareness of the metro’s importance has meant that when possible, conditions for its continued development have been created. It is with this intent that the realisation of the extension of Metro Line A westward beyond Dejvická Station is now starting, shortly after the commissioning of metro section IV.C2 Ládví-Letňany in 2008. The extension of Metro Line A was set as a priority by the municipal government in the development of the metro network, with exclusive rights to finances obtainable from European funds. Further preparatory work was adapted to this decision, including additional incorporation of this objective into the city’s urban planning. At the same time was the preparation of the initial section of the fourth Metro Line ‘D’ – Náměstí Míru-Depo Písnice (an automatic light metro system running north-south). However, the subject of this article is primarily the growth of Metro Line A, specifically the section V.A Dejvická-Motol. Metro Line A bisects the city from the northwest to the east, and currently runs from Dejvická to Depo Hostivař – an 11km section with 13 stations. It provides several important transport functions, but entirely critical is its termination at Devická Station. While all other terminus stations in the Prague metro network are located outside the greater city centre, usually in ideal conditions on its fringes, with ties to connecting high-capacity bus terminals, and P+R parking lots – in the case of Dejvická Station the situation is completely different. It is located at Vítězné náměstí (Victory Square), which is in the inner city and the centre of Prague 6, an important city ward with over 100,000 inhabitants. Locating a bus terminal in this high-profile location in the throes of urban development is exceptionally problematic, as is the termination of some bus lines at the next station, Hradčanská. This is compounded by the fact that long-distance, regional and city bus lines are routed to Vítězné náměstí from the northwest edge of Prague along Evropská Street, through a complex of high-capacity housing developments, and have a negative effect on the quality of life of a large number of its inhabitants. Automobile traffic to these metro stations also has a similar effect, plus causes problems due to the lack of parking capacity. It is the reduction of surface transport at Vítězné náměstí and connecting locations in the northwest part of Prague, along with interests in an overall improvement in mass transit service in this location, which became the key impulse for the municipal government to accelerate the extension of Metro Line A. The project will be implemented as V.A Dejvická-Motol, a 4-station metro segment with an operating length of 5.98km. The Prague Metro is conceived as an open system, meaning that further development options for Metro Line A past Motol Station have also been specified. In Prague’s new city plan currently under preparation, territory has been reserved for the continuation of Metro Line A in two directions. One option is a 5-station segment to Ruzyně Airport (with an important high-capacity transit terminal at Dlouhá Míle Station, enabling connecting bus and automobile traffic to be intercepted at city limits). A second option is a 3-station extension to Zličín, which besides providing transit service to the large Řepy housing development and the dynamically developing Zličín area, also provides connections to Metro Line B. These issues shall be resolved in subsequent phases of work on new city planning documentation; of primary importance will be the resultant approach to the matter of the necessary connection of Ruzyně Airport to the city centre with a high-capacity track system, where the initial option of railway usage is still significant. However, let us return from the conceptual issues of long-term planning to the reality of the commencing construction of the operational segment V.A from Dejvická Station to Motol. This Metro segment rises to the west under Evropská St., turns to the south in the area of the Vokovice neighbourhood, passes through the White Mountain terrace and comes out under the south slopes of the Motol Valley. The terrain’s morphology and the high degree of urbanisation of the territory affected by the route resulted in the need to build almost the entire extent of the project using bored tunnels. TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) technology will be used for the first time in the Prague Metro to build single-track tunnels using the latest boring machines. Station tunnels and double-track line tunnels will be built using established NATM (New Austrian Tunnelling Method) technology, using blasting work from access tunnels, which will then be used to transport the excavated material away with haulage trucks. Three of the new Metro stations (Červený Vrch, Veleslavín and Petřiny) will be tunnelled, while Motol Station will be excavated. The Metro construction project includes structures for connecting bus transport, which will serve to meet the project’s primary goal – its termination further away from the city centre, replacing the majority of the capacity of existing terminal facilities. A new bus terminal will be built by the Veleslavín metro station, and an existing bus terminal at the location of the future Červený Vrch metro station will be functionally optimised. The nature of the location of the Motol terminus station does not allow for the construction of a bus terminal, and thus connecting bus lines will simply pass through the location, and will lead to a bus turnabout to be built inside the nearby Vypich tram loop. In the future, depending on the final solution for connecting the airport to rail transport, the majority of connecting surface transit will be intercepted on the outskirts of the city by building a transit terminal at Dlouhá Míle. The efficiency of the new metro section in the area in question is of course to a great extent given by the location of individual stations, the nature and extent of connections they generate, and their design and construction. To give an idea of their functionality, a brief description of each station follows. Of their individual parameters, it must be noted that they are dimensioned for train lengths of up to 100m and all have been of course designed for accessibility.
This station will primarily serve large housing developments in the Červený Vrch area, including surrounding shopping and social facilities. Transfer connections to tram and bus transits are created here, and there is a small terminal for city and regional bus lines next to the station. The station is designed as a single-nave hall, bored, with an island platform, at a depth of 28.2m below the surface. Its east (main) underground vestibule is connected to the platform with escalators, and connects to a pedestrian underpass under Evropská St. with exits at surface transit stops and adjacent sidewalks. The second exit has two high- capacity elevators opening up into another underpass connecting individual parts of the housing development.
This station’s primary significance rests in the creation of an important transfer node between long-distance, suburban and urban transit at a relatively low-profile location and at a greater distance from the city centre. From the perspective of direct connections to the given location, the metro plays a significant role in urban development, with expected regeneration of the surrounding old and poor-quality buildings and additional construction and capacity increases. They key transit benefit of this metro station is given by the fact that a main bus terminal will be built next to it (conceived as a temporary one in the context of planning related to the resolution of important transfer relationships at Dlouhá Míle), that it has connections to tram lines, and is located by a station on the Prague-Kladno rail line, which is to be modernised and will have a spur line to the airport added. The metro station has been designed as shallow bored, three-nave, with columns, with an island platform and will be 20.5m below the surface. The underground vestibule, connected to the west end of the platform with escalators and an elevator, will connect to pedestrian underpasses providing access to the railway, bus terminal, tram stops and surrounding buildings.
This station is located in the compact Petřiny housing development and its purpose is primarily to provide its residents with more convenient access to the city centre. It will be built at a depth of approximately 37.6m as bored, one-nave, with an island platform. The station vestibule, connected to the platform with escalators, is designed as a surface structure, with short connections to tram and bus stops. The second station exit, on the south side of the platform is via two high-capacity elevators. Turnabout tracks are to be located behind the station.
The station is located in front of the Motol Faculty Hospital and planned development should create work and residential facilities for up to 10,000 individuals. A large number of other outpatients and inpatients are treated annually at the nearby Na Homolce Hospital, which has over 1,700 employees. These healthcare facilities provide high-level healthcare for a significant part of Prague and the Region of Central Bohemia, and the metro station will bring much-needed improvements to their transit accessibility. New bus connections will also be established, especially to Jihozápadní Město (Southwest City) and Řepy. The resultant reduction in the length of corresponding bus lines will reduce bus traffic on roads into the city centre. Motol Station will be built into the slope on Kukulova St., directly across from Motol Faculty Hospital. It is recessed 6.7 into the hillside, has a side platform and has an interesting architectural design, whose glassed-in ceiling provides the interior with daylight. The main station vestibule connects to a pedestrian underpass under the adjacent road, providing direct pedestrian access to the hospital grounds and connecting bus stops. The second exit from the station is an emergency exit, and after additional construction expected on the hospital grounds takes place, will provide other full-service connections. Past the Motol terminus station, there will be dead-end sidings with a crossover. The demographic potential for the line from the perspective of providing transit services to residents, job opportunities and especially important destinations (hospitals, transfer terminals, etc.) for affected areas of the city is shown in Table 1. The required vehicle fleet increase due to the Metro Line A extension will be taken care of by the total reconstruction of an appropriate number of original Russian model 81-71 wagons (already in progress) by ŠKODA TRANSPORTATION, a.s. Five-wagon trains of rebuilt 81-71M wagons (operated on a 750 VDC system bottom-fed by a 3rd rail) are currently in use on lines A and B. Peak-time intervals on the Line A extension will be 120 seconds, travel time between Dejvická and Motol stations will be 530 seconds, 490 seconds in the opposite direction, and a peak hourly passenger transfer rate of 6,100 is to be achieved in the segment between Dejvice and Červený Vrch stations. Project costs (sans vehicles) are 18.7 billion CZK (2008 price levels), with reconstruction of 13 metro wagon trains including relevant parts of new signalling equipment representing another approximately 2 billion CZK. A total contribution of €290 million from the EU Operating Programme – Transport has been earmarked for the construction of the metro segment V.A Dejvická-Motol, with the remaining financing to be provided by the City of Prague. Preparatory work at individual construction sites began at the end of 2009 – the main construction phase will begin in the spring of 2010 – and the new segment of Metro Line A to Motol is expected to commence operation at the end of 2014. According to the goals of the municipal government, it should become a milestone in the improvement of transport in the city ward of Prague 6 and partly also Prague 5, whose fundamental aspects can be summarised as follows:
- A further fundamental expansion of the metro system’s sphere of transport activity, with all attendant positive effects of its capacity and segregated operation (safety, reliability, speed, etc.) will occur, creating new connections between individual transport systems, shifting a large part of bus and tram transit services to the metro, and improving the general level of mass transit service in the affected area
- A reduction in bus traffic in the city centre (at the aforementioned metro stations and incoming radial roads such as Evropská, Patočková, etc.) and a contribution to the gradual reduction of automobile traffic will lead to a corresponding improvement in the quality of the environment in the area concerned
- A needed tangential interconnection of the areas of Veleslavín, Petřiny and Motol will be provided (i.e. of city wards Prague 5 and Prague 6) by urban rail transit
- A great improvement to the transit service to important hospital facilities at Motol
Ensuring that the construction schedule is met and putting the new segment of Metro Line A into operation in 2014 will of course be one of Prague’s financial priorities over the next five years. At the same time, though, corresponding attention must be paid to ensuring preparations are made for the new Metro Line D. This project is key for the resolution of problems such as the unsatisfactory transit service situation in the southwest sector of Prague and the need to create transit capacity reserves in overloaded Metro Line C (with a critical bottleneck at the Nusle Bridge), and from a perspective of functional balance of the development of the Prague metro system, its realisation is of paramount importance.