Prague’s Railway Tracks: The New Frontier for Urban Development

The demand for free land in Prague has surged, so areas previously deemed unsuitable are now being considered for development. One such area is the railway yard of Prague’s main station, which is currently considered railway territory.

On Monday, councilors of the 2nd district of Prague, based on spokesperson Andrey Zoulové, approved a proposal to alter the land-use plan at the railway yard. This proposal comes from Czech Railways and a company that, alongside the railways, also represents managers of the Penta investment group. Deputy Mayor Jan Recman put forward the proposal and indicated that the council of Prague 2 must confirm the decision next week.

According to the approved document, the railway land is to be converted into a mixed urban core with a specifically determined proportion of floor areas and greenery. The development would likely involve roofing over the railway tracks on pylons, a sort of platform with houses on it.

The push for this development is timely as the city will stop accepting land-use plan changes in the semester due to a new building law and a new metropolitan land-use plan, which should be approved in 2026. Associations like Arnika and AutoMat, which drew attention to the proposal, suggest that investors are in a hurry.

“Fundamental conceptual issues of city development cannot be solved hastily and behind closed doors. First, it is necessary to discuss transparently with all actors—conservationists, urban planners, climatologists and other experts, as well as with the public—whether it is possible to build at all in this place and under what conditions,” says Anna Vinklárková from Arnika.

Vinohradská Street and Seifertová Street demarcate the expansive area in question. Prague 2 councilors agree that a wider working group should be established.

According to the councilors’ resolution, “An open anonymous international urban competition will be held, which will verify wider relationships in the area, including connection to public infrastructure, building capacity, and visual ties to the adjoining historical buildings in the wider surroundings. An architectural competition will be held for individual objects in the area in question.”

The idea of building over the railway tracks in Prague has been floated repeatedly but never led to realization. The main station area could see significant changes if the results of a recent international competition, announced by the Railway Administration with Prague, also come to fruition.