European funds will be wasted in Plzeň on a nonsensical "modernisation" of an unnecessary railway diversion

27. 10. 2016 / František Řezáč

The Škoda Words industrial area was originally located to the north from the Cheb railway line. There was also a railway station whose steam plant has only recently been demolished. There is a well-known photograph of a visit by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph to this place some time before the First World War.

The situation changed when Škoda Works expanded to land located to the south of the Cheb railway line. Thus a section of the Domažlice railway line found itself within a walled-in Škoda Works area.

The problem was solved by building an extra railway track within the corridor of the Cheb railway line, which lead to the right in the direction outside the city. This railway line rises from the rail corridor and at Skvrňany it elegantly shifts itself over a bridge to the left in the direction towards the original railway line beyond the Škoda Works area.

This is what the situation is still today. (see point 2 on the contemporary map and the photograph of the railway crossing at Skvrňany).


A map of the current situation:



The Škoda Works section of the Domažlice railway line was used only as a branch line for the transport of coal into the ELU III coal fired power station and of the products of the Škoda Works from the factory to the main railway line. But recently, this branch line is no longer used for these purposes - the power station now uses liquid fuel, which is transported by a pipeline. Nevertheless, the branch line still exists.

Plzeň Jižní předměstí, originally a railway track leading to Domažlice, now just a branch line:



A well preserved and little used branch line, originally the Domažlice railway line:




But the history of the railway diversion line did not end in the 1920s. A tunnel was built in the southern part of the Škoda Works plant leading from the power station under the Cheb railway line towards the steelworks in the northern part of the Škoda Works plant. Thus three different railway tracks came to cross each other on different levels. And in the 1930s, a metal road bridge, designed by architect Faltus, was added to this convoluted railway track monster. This road bridge is no longer used (see photograph) because the southern approach to the bridge has been demolished and the northern approach is slowly disintegrating.

A European transport curiosity: A former road is on top. Under it, along the wall painted with graffiti, the Domažlice railway line. Under it, a double track Cheb railway line. Still  under it, a tunnel for the branch line (the tunnel is not visible in this photograph):



This is where the branch line rejoins the original railway track:




It looks as though this amazing railway curiosity will be retained when the Domažlice railway line is to be modernised in the near future. According to the documentation published by Czech Railtrack ("Správa železniční dopravní cesty", SŽDC), the existing railway diversion will be retained and "modernised". The Faltus bridge will be moved elsewhere and used as a footbridge. So the three railway lines, one above the other, will continue to exist.

But does this really need to be so? Should not the modernised railway line be returned into the original, simple railway track? This would save maybe hundreds of millions of Czech crowns, and millions of euros from the European Union funds.

However there seems to be a reluctance in the Czech Republic to opt for the simple solution. The modernisation of the historical rail monster on three levels will be much more expensive than the simple solution and as, local designers have admitted, will allow the firms who will modernise the railway to make much more money than if the simple option was used.

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Obsah vydání | 27. 10. 2016