Work on the most complicated section of a rail connection between central Prague and the city’s Václav Havel Airport can go ahead after the withdrawal of a petition against it lodged with the Office for the Protection of Competition, iDnes.cz reported on Thursday. However, it will still be several years before such a link is in place.
The company Pro Cedop had filed a complaint against the construction of a section of railway between Veleslavín and Výstaviště. However, it has now retracted the action, the spokesperson for the anti-trust authority, Martin Švanda, told the news website.
Pro Cedop said it had done so out of a sense that the Office for the Protection of Competition was going to dismiss the petition in any case.
Petr Šlegr, of railways advocacy group Cedop (from Centre for Effective Transport), which controls Pro Cedop, said the anti-trust authority had proceeded in a similar manner to during a previous dispute about a high-speed line between Prague and Břeclav, when it asked five Czech companies whether they regarded the proposed conditions as discriminatory or not.
Cedop argues that the terms of the project are indeed discriminatory and are set up in such a way as to disadvantage non-Czech firms.
Trains heading from the airport and the nearby Kladno should pass through two tunnels of around three km in length at a depth of around 80 metres between Veleslavín and Výstaviště.
However, only one applicant, a local consortium of Metroprojekt and Sudop Praha, has tendered a bid for the contract.
A spokesperson for the Railway Infrastructure Administration said it expected to sign a deal with the consortium in the near future, iDnes.cz reported.
The plan on the table now is rather less ambitious. It is for an electrified two-track link that would also require the upgrading of an existing line to Kladno.
The project, which will cost over CZK 30 billion, is intended to cut journey times between the airport and the downtown area. Trains should reach Veleslavín (from where buses to the airport go now) from the airport within 11 minutes and the city centre within 25.
Constructing such a service will require changes to the capital’s development plan, meaning it is unlikely that construction work would begin before 2025.
This would mean the dream of 25-minute rail journeys to and from the airport is unlikely to come true before 2028 at the earliest, iDnes.cz reported.