Prague has one of Europe’s busiest metros, and what looks like the highest per capita rail ridership in not just Europe but also the non-Tokyo world. And yet, expansion is seeing exploding costs.
In our database, the past extensions in Prague are not especially expensive. The most recent expansion to open was that of Line A to Nemocnine Motol, built 2010-5. It cost 20.2 billion CZK for 6.1 km, or 3.3 billion CZK/km; in PPP dollars, this is around $250 million/km. This is just how much things in Czechia would cost. The previous extension was that of Line C to Letňany, built 2004-8; it cost 15 billion CZK/4.6 km, the same as the later Line A extension per km, and in the interim period, Czechia had practically no inflation. Both lines had a feature that should slightly suppress costs: the Line C extension was partly cut-and-cover and partly bored, and the Line A extension, otherwise fully underground, has a daylit terminus built into the side of a hill.
And now Prague is building Line D, at a far higher cost. The current estimate is 73 billion CZK/10.5 km. This is in PPP terms $540 million per km, making it the most expensive metro (not S-Bahn) line I know of in Continental Europe, and only marginally cheaper per km than the Battersea extension of the Northern line in London.
The map provided in the link shows the line not even going all the way to city center. Its northern terminus, Náměstí Míru, connects with Line A, is in the center, but is just outside the historic core where the three current lines meet; from there the line is to go south, intersecting Line C peripherally and Line B not at all. Nor is the line quite fully underground – like the Nemocnine Motol extension, it has minor daylit segments, including a river crossing, a station, and a depot; overall, it looks 90% underground, not 100%.
I do not know what’s going on there. The Czech economy is growing, but there’s no singular boom that should explain why the 2020s are so profoundly different from the 2000s and 10s. On my Twitch stream, a Czech commenter speculated that the contractor ecosystem is breaking, with only 5-6 contractors, all domestic, and reticence to hire foreign, whereas for example in Sweden there’s a steady influx of Turkish and Chinese contractors, and in the private sector Prague’s construction sites are full of immigrants from poorer countries. But then Skanska was one of the lead contractors for the extension to Letňany.