Ice, frozen rain paralyze Czech public transport

02-12-2014

The Czech transportation infrastructure suffered a partial collapse on Tuesday as a result of a severe cold snap, which caused black ice to impact roads, rail and tram lines across the Czech Republic.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Sub-zero winter temperatures are nothing new in the Czech Republic, but a confluence of rain, rapid freezing and subsequent thawing crippled transportation infrastructures across the country overnight Tuesday.

For Czech Railways, problems began on Monday night, with black ice causing severe delays of as much as six hours to electric-powered lines, in particular those traversing between Prague and central Moravia, as well as Haná, Olomouc, Přerov and Prostějov. The Prague-Ostrava corridor was also severely impacted. 100,000 passengers across the country reportedly faced delays and cancellations, compounded in many cases by a lack of available replacement bus services. Overnight, almost all train services between Central Bohemia and Moravia were suspended due to the icy conditions, leading many stranded travelers to face sleeping in stations or wagons. By morning, services out of Prague were gradually resumed, with Czech Railways promising to get things back to normal by late Tuesday.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Michal Štěpán, Chairman of Czech Railways, spoke to Czech Radio on Tuesday morning, and conceded that passengers had incurred major inconveniences as a result of the icy conditions:

“It is obvious that in the process of canceling several dozen trains, we were not able to provide the necessary comfort levels to all of our passengers…overnight, ten trains were left stranded in Prague and Haná, including Pendolino and EuroCity lines. In co-ordination with the Integrated Emergency Services (IZS), we distributed thousands of baguettes, water and so on. Around 100,000 passengers were affected and I apologise to all of them.”

The weather also impacted municipal transportation services. In Prague, tram lines were suspended overnight. Hundreds of extra buses covering ten separate routes were put into action to cover the shortfall, but that didn’t prevent major overcrowding, particularly during the Tuesday morning rush-hour. By late morning, 11 out of 22 tram lines were still not in operation. A similar suspension of tram services also hit the city of Olomouc, while Brno suffered major disruptions to its tram and trolleybus services.

The icy weather has also hit road transportation, with Prague police reporting 50 accidents on Monday evening alone. In one incident, the city’s ring-road saw a reported 11 cars involved in a pile-up near Lochkovský tunnel. Fortunately, police also report that so far, most weather related injuries have been light to moderate.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Meteorologists have issued black ice warnings across almost the entire territory of the Czech Republic. Temperatures are expected to hover between -1 to +3 Celsius during Tuesday, with far less incidences of black ice – instead replaced by regular snowfall – forecast in the run-up to Wednesday.

02-12-2014