Revamping Railways: Central Bohemian Region and Prague Launch 60 Billion CZK Tender for New Railway Carrier

The Central Bohemian Region and Prague are preparing a competition for a new railway carrier worth 60 billion Czech crowns. This will be the largest tender concerning transport services between regions. The contract, awarded for 15 years, is expected to expire in 2029 when the current agreement with Czech Railways (ČD) for railway services in the region ends.

The competition for a new carrier is scheduled to be announced next spring to attract as many manufacturers and operators as possible, said Petr Borecký, the Central Bohemian Councilor for Public Transport. He mentioned that the selection process is expected to take about a year, with additional time allocated for potential objections, appeals, and inquiries from applicants. This will ensure that the chosen carrier has sufficient time, together with the selected manufacturer, to finalize the contract to have new vehicles available by 2029.

The winning bidder can be either a single operator or multiple carriers, similar to the current bus transportation tender, divided into different regions. An expert team is being formed to facilitate the competition, and the team composition is being discussed between the regional government and the city of Prague. The Central Bohemian Region will act as the central contracting authority, and by the end of the month, a public procurement administrator with qualifications in transportation will be selected.

The competition will focus on main corridor routes, where EMU 400 train sets will be deployed, potentially alongside the existing CityElefant sets. Additionally, the region plans to hold new competitions for 20% of services on medium-sized unelectrified lines, thanks to the current ten-year agreement with ČD. Examples of such lines include Prague-Vrané nad Vltavou-Čerčany, Prague-Neratovice-Mladá Boleslav, and Prague-Hostivice-Rudná.

Borecký explained that these lines have a traffic intensity somewhere between local lines and main corridor routes, and it is known that they will not be electrified by 2029. Therefore, it would not make sense to introduce electric vehicles on these lines or to operate miniature regional trains. The new carriers will work on these lines from 2025 or, at the latest, from 2026 for ten years, with the value of this contract estimated at around four to five billion Czech crowns.

As part of the agreement with ČD, 22 new three-car RegioPanter electric units, and ten new two-car RegioFox diesel units will be procured. The RegioPanter units are expected to start operating next year on the Prague-Ústí nad Labem and Prague-Čáslav routes via Kolín. In contrast, the RegioFox units will run from Prague through Rudná to Beroun and from Beroun to Rakovník. According to Borecký, the renewal of the rolling stock is necessary, and they aim to phase out the first generation unit 471 gradually and the already museum-like Class 810 motorized units.