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History of electrified railways in Czechia

In the year 2003 the 100th anniversary of the first electrified railway in the Czechia will be celebrated. Main event will be the celebrations on 21./22. June 2003 on the first line from Tabor to Bechyne with the reconstructed original electric coach from these days.

electrified railways in Czechia
The beginnings of electrification
Electrification with 3 kV DC
Electrification with 25 kV AC
Recent and future electrifications

related articles
maps of Czech network

The beginnings of electrification
The first electrified railway on the area of the Czech republic was line from Tábor to Bechynì. This line was opened on 22. June 1903. Sliding trolley line was comprised by 2 parallel wires (each with voltage of DC 700 V), third pole was a rail. Traffic was serviced by electric coaches.
In the year 1938 the power supply equipment and catenary was reconstructed to single contact line wire (with 1500 V DC voltage) and electric coaches were also changed.

In Slovakia the first electric railway was opened in 1908 on the narrow gauge line from Poprad to Stary Smokovec, prolonged to Tatranska Lomnica and Strbské Pleso and also reconstructed to DC electric system 1500 V (originally 550 V DC) in 1911-12.

In the year 1911 the line Rybník - Lipno was equipped with DC electric system 1200 V with single wire trolley line. Next step was as late as the electrification of few railway stations in Prague and connecting tracks between that stations. That construction was finished in the year 1928 and the system DC 1500 V was used. The overall length of these rail lines was 28 km. First electric locomotives in the independent Czechoslovakia were built in 1927 in the factory Skoda in Plzen (Pilsen) with a maximal velocity of 90 km/h as 6-axle locos with two control stands for the engine-driver driven by 4 traction duomotors.

Electrification with 3 DC electric system 3 kV
After 2nd world war one decided to electrify the heavy traffic lines with the DC system 3 kV. The first mountain section of the Slovakian main line from Spisska Nova Ves to Zilina was opened on 7. November 1956, whereas the first section in Czechia followed on 7. November 1957 as part of the main railway line from Prague to Tøebovice v Èechách.
On this line catenary suspended trolley line was used, compensated, with the sliding wire cross-section 100-150 mm2 and catenary messenger (tracking cables) from copper, bronze and steel. Masts were located each 60 meters. Power supply stations were equipped with rectifiers used mercury vapor lamps, now with air-cooled sillicon diodes.

Electric locos were built in Skoda factory in Plzen, in the years 1953-1959 the first 100 locos of E 499.0. series were delivered. Some of them are still in operation (now marked as serie 140).

Electrification by the electric system AC 25 kV, 50 Hz
In the early 1960's the decision was made to take advantage of the effiency of the AC system and start building another electrification railway system. The line Plzeò - Horaïovice pøedmìstí (Horazdovice-predmesti) was chosen for 25 kV 50 Hz test purposes of manufacturer Skoda Plzeò, the first section Plzen - Blovice was opened for traffic 1. April 1962. First locos on that new AC system electrified lines belong to class E479.0 (S 479.0). They were equipped with transformer and rectifiers with sillicon diodes, the first 2 machines were built in 1961.

Recent and future electrifications (summary)
Starting in 2003, several sections of rail lines have been (re-)electrified: In June 2005 the rebuilding of Lipno - Rybnik to 25 kV AC was finished. Feeding of DC 3 kV on Letohrad - Lichkov and AC 25 kV on Karlovy Vary - Kadan is scheduled to be ready in 2006.
After the end of these works the following sections are scheduled for electrification: Ostrava hl.n. - Frydlant n.O. - (Valasske Mezirici) and Ostrava-Svinov - Opava in DC system, Ceske Budejovice - Ceske Velenice and Ceske Velenice - Veseli n. L. in AC system.
Long projected is also a electric rapid railway from the Praha-Masarykovo n. (city center) to the airport in Ruzyne on the reconstructed tracks of the line Praha-Kladno.

As an interesting project of the tram-train mixed operation vehicles the electrification of lines from Liberec to Tanvald - Harrachov - (to Poland) and from Liberec to Zittau (Germany) is discussed and planned. These combinations have demonstrated their efficiency around Karlsruhe (Germany).

Many new sections of the modernized line from Benesov to Ceske Budejovice are planned as double track with the max. speed increased to 160 km/h (today <100 km/h). Similar new-built sections, of course electrified, are planned on the line from Prague to Plzen and Cheb.

There are studies about many other sections in total length of several hundreds kilometers, but the investition funds are to be found and to be guaranteed.
© 2003 Zdenek Haft

Electrification of Letohrad (CZ) to Miedzylesie (PL)
Starting in mid 2007 the border line between Letohrad and Miedzylesie will be electrified. In the first the step the electrification and infrastructure upgrade is going to be performed between Polish Miedzylesie and the Czech border until the end of 2008, funded by PKP.

The intention of this project is the creation of a fourth electrified connection between both states as well as the optimisation of the whole relation Letohrad (CZ) - Lichkov - Miedzylesie (PL).
© 2007 Zdenek Haft
Mi?dzylesie station
Miedzylesie station before the start of electrification and upgrading works.

© Zdenek Haft

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