The incumbent’s share of the Czech domestic passenger market continues to fall gradually.

CZECH REPUBLIC: The timetable introduced on December 12 brought a further decline in passenger volumes operated by ČD, although the state operator has returned to two short branch lines where trains were previously run by private operators.

In early November ČD was directly awarded PSO contracts to continue to operate express services on two lines, after no other bidder was interested.

ČD will run trains for another seven years on route R10 from Praha to Trutnov, for which the Ministry of Transport will pay KC210·2 per train-km. This is a significant increase on the KC165 it has paid until now, making it the most expensive long-distance service reimbursed by the state. ČD said the high price was caused by the need to change traction at Hradec Králové.

ČD will also continue to run long-distance trains for the next three years on route R9 from Praha to Brno via Havlíčkův Brod. The government will pay KC136·9 per train-km, slightly less than the current price of KC137·6.

In early October the ministry called bids for a 15-year contract worth up to KC6bn to run fast trains on the route starting in December 2024, for which it requires new push-pull trains capable of 200 km/h for the first time. A fleet of 10 train-sets with a capacity of 200 to 300 seats will operate at 2 h headways on the Praha – Havlíčkův Brod – Brno route, supplemented by Praha – Havlíčkův Brod – Jihlava trains every two hours. Bids are due to be submitted by April 2022.

On December 12, private operator RegioJet took over operation of eight R23 express services each way on the Kolín – Ústí nad Labem line. It had offered the lowest bid of KC555·6m for the eight-year contract, beating the incumbent’s offer of KC653m.

RegioJet has promised to significantly enhance passenger comfort, using air-conditioned coaches with vacuum toilets, wi-fi and 230 V power sockets.

Netinera’s subsidiary Die Länderbahn CZ has taken over from ČD as operator of regional trains on Rumburk – Mladá Boleslav service L4 under a 10-year contract with the Liberecký region which was signed on November 5. Liberec – Děčín service L2 will follow in December 2022. The price offered was KC169·8 per train-km. With this contract, ČD’s share of passenger volumes in a Czech region will fall below 50% for the first time.

Die Länderbahn CZ will use four leased Class 642 Desiro DMUs plus one spare on L4, where they will mostly replace ČD Class 843 railcars. Another four units will be required for services on L2. A gradual refurbishment of the vehicles is planned.

Arrriva has taken over from ČD on the whole of service L3 between Liberec and Jaroměř via Stará Paka, using Siemens Desiro DMUs.

Meanwhile, ČD has replaced Arriva on the short Stará Paka – Lomnice nad Popelkou line 046, which will be now worked by Class 810/843 railcars.

Under a contract with the Hradec Králové region, ČD also returns after 24 years to line 032 between Trutnov and Svoboda nad Úpou, replacing private operator GW Train Regio. This will allow introduction of six daily pairs of direct semi-fast trains from Svoboda nad Úpou to Pardubice.

Due to very low patronage the Středočeský  regional authority has stopped funding services on six local lines, leading to the withdrawal of regular passenger trains 233 Čelákovice – Mochov, 063 Bakov nad Jizerou – Dolní Bousov and 095 Straškov – Zlonice in late October.

On December 12 trains ceased running on 094 Vraňany – Lužec nad Vltavou, 204 Březnice – Rožmitál pod Třemšínem and 222 Vlašim – Trhový Štěpánov, being mostly been replaced with buses. From March to October trains will run only on weekends and public holidays on 062 Křinec – Městec Králové, 076 Mělník – Mšeno and 162 Rakovník – Kralovice u Rakovníka.