AUGUST 1 saw the formal start of work on a major remodelling of the main line tracks through the centre of Praha.

Due to be completed by December 15 2010, the Nové Spojení (New Connection) project will completely remodel the connections between Praha's major stations at Hlavní, Masarykovo, Liben, Vysocany and Holesovice. A new four-track approach to the main station will permit the restructuring of services through the capital, providing a high-quality link between national inter-city corridors 1, 3 and 4 for the first time.

Preliminary works costing KC260m were completed in November 2002, including the reconstruction of the Seifert road bridge at the north end of Hlavní station.

Start of work on the main project follows the formal signing of an agreement between rail infrastructure administration SZDC and the government on July 12. Total cost is put at KC7·85bn, which will be met from the State Transport Infrastructure Fund. Construction will be undertaken by the Sdruzení Prazské Spojení consortium incorporating Skanska ZS, SSZ, Metrostav and Subterra.

The biggest element of the work will be the boring of two 2·7 km double-track tunnels under Vítkov hill to replace the existing single-track bore. Four new flyovers will be built at Masarykova, Husitsk? , Sluncov? and Balabenka, with a combined length of 1600m. There will be 28·5 km of new track, of which 16 km will be electrified at 3 kV DC, 43 km of optic fibre cable, and 3 km of noise barriers.