As EU countries integrate ever more closely with their neighbours, traffic volumes are growing. Each individual mode of transport can only cope with this to a limited extent. Cross-border multimodal corridors are therefore needed. The Orient/East-Med Corridor is one of the nine core network corridors of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and will connect Central Europe with the maritime interfaces of the North Sea and Baltic Sea as well as the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The route between Berlin and Prague is a crucial part of this corridor.
On the section connecting the two metropolitan regions of Dresden and Prague, a new line approximately 43 kilometres in length is planned between Heidenau and Ústí nad Labem. The envisaged higher speeds of up to 200 km/h for passenger transport and 120 km/h for freight transport will enable significantly faster journeys and open the door to economic growth. In view of the increasing international traffic between Berlin, Dresden and Prague, rail also offers an environmentally friendly alternative to the motorway.
New lines and upgrades are also planned on the Czech part of the route between Ústí nad Labem and Prague (link to the Správa železnic website: https://www.spravazeleznic.cz/vrt/vrt-drazdany-praha).
Project objectives according to the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (FTIP)
Other aspects of the project
Commuters and tourists: A commuter link with a journey time of around one hour is being created between Dresden and Prague. Upgrading the line will enable new regional rail passenger transport services for commuters and spur the further development of tourism in these regions.
Shifting more traffic from road to rail: The line upgrade will help to meet the increased demand for freight transport and accommodate the additional traffic expected in future. A 740-metre-long freight train can replace around 50 trucks.
Strengthening local economies: Improved, faster connections (from the North Sea ports all the way to Cyprus) can strengthen and further develop the economies of both Saxony and the Czech Republic. The line could encourage more companies to locate in the areas along the route, for example.
Environment: The project will include numerous measures to locally offset damage to natural assets where encroachments on the natural environment are unavoidable. There is also a unique opportunity to incorporate land into biodiversity enhancement projects as part of the offsetting measures. Shifting traffic from road to rail also means a considerable reduction in CO2 and noise emissions.
The project is currently still in preliminary design – a very early planning phase. Preliminary design involves working on key fundamentals and conducting in-depth planning work on the various options. It also includes the regional planning procedure. At the end of preliminary design (or “HOAI phase 2”), the preferred option will be decided. This preferred option will then be examined by the Bundestag – the German parliament.
After parliamentary scrutiny, the preferred option will be planned in more detail in the final design (HOAI phase 3) and planning for building permit application (HOAI phase 4) phases and presented to the German Federal Railway Authority for approval.
The Federal Railway Authority will open the planning approval process and ensure the public can raise objections and participate in a public hearing. After weighing all the interests involved, it can then issue a planning approval (the construction permit).
Once the construction permit has been issued, the framework for creating the new railway line through the Ore Mountains is complete and implementation can begin.