Authorities okay moving Brno’s main train station out of city centre

The Moravian city of Brno might soon see its main train station move out of city centre. Brno’s central district recently issued a planning permit for the controversial multi-billion project. But opponents of the plan believe the process can still be stopped.

Brno’s main train stationBrno’s main train station Passengers at Brno’s main station may soon have to go to a new location to catch their train. For nearly two decades Brno City Hall has been pushing to move the city’s railway junction some 800 metres to the south where a new station building would be constructed.

This would enable a thorough modernization of the railway junction not possible in the cramped quarters of the city centre. The 1839 railway station building would then be transformed into a shopping mall. The plan has now received the green light from Brno’s central district which last week issued a respective planning permit. Brno’s mayor Roman Onderka says if things go smoothly, construction could start in several months’ time.

“If the planning permit enters into force, the Railway Infrastructure Administration as well as the Transport Ministry will be able to apply from about eight billion crowns from EU funds, and apply for a building permit. If there are no appeals and no delays, I believe construction work could start by the end of this year.”

But it’s very likely there will be appeals against the authorities’ decision. Six years ago, a coalition of local NGOs made Brno City Hall hold a referendum on the project. Not enough people came to the polls for the outcome to be binding, and a planning permit was issued in 2007. But the NGOs took the matter to court which ruled in their favour. They are planning to challenge the latest permit as well. Hana Chalupská is one of the activists.

The area of the main train station after planned reconstruction, photo: www.europointbrno.czThe area of the main train station after planned reconstruction, photo: “Together with other NGOs and individuals, we are at the moment reviewing the planning permit. It has some 200 pages but it looks like we will appeal the decision because our objections were literally ignored. So I think we will appeal the decision, and other people will do the same on an individual basis.”

The activists say the project would hinder the development of railway transport in the whole region. Also, city trams and buses run very close to the current main station, which is really convenient for travellers. On the contrary, the planned location for the new station building is very user-unfriendly, according to Hana Chalupská.

Brno’s main train station, photo: Jiří Sedláček, www.wikimedia.orgBrno’s main train station, photo: Jiří Sedláček, “No city in western Europe has moved its train station from the centre to the periphery. In the case of Brno, the move would be very significant because the current location is central, which is very convenient for the travellers. The area where it’s supposed to move is now being developed very chaotically, it only has office blocks, parking lots and shopping malls, and I don’t think this will ever become a lively city neighbourhood.”

The NGOs have until August 9 to formally appeal against the decision to Brno City Hall. If their objections are dismissed, the 20-billion crown project may once again end up in court.