Czech Railways (ČD) and Slovak Rail (ZSSK) have accelerated the connection from the Czech capital to Košice and the Tatras. The historically fastest connection between Prague and eastern Slovakia – almost an hour faster than present connections – will be provided by Czech Pendolino high-speed trains. Both national carriers will jointly participate in its operation.
Today’s EuroCity Košičan blazes the way from Prague via Vsetín to Košice in 8 hours and 21 minutes. The new SuperCity Pendolino connection will shorten this travel time by almost an hour. The journey from Prague to Košice will thus take approximately 7.5 hours in the new timetable. Thus, the SC Pendolino will become the fastest connection between Prague and eastern Slovakia not only on the market currently, but also in the history of direct transport between the two cities. For example, in the 1950s travel time between Prague and Košice was around 14-15 hours; trains reached an average travel speed of only around 50 km/h. Ten years ago, the Košičan connection covered this distance in approximately 9.5 hours with an overage speed of 74 km/h. In the current timetable, ČD and ZSSK have cut the travel time to 8 hours and 21 minutes, increasing the average speed to 80 km/h. The SC Pendolino train and its travel time of almost an hour less will now raise the average travel speed to a new record of approximately 95 km/h, making it one of the fastest international trains in all of Central Europe.
“We want to offer passengers not only a fast connection, but also a range of supplementary services on board the train as well as at the destination,”emphasises Michal Štěpán, the board member at ČD, a.s., responsible for passenger transport, adding specific examples: “The SC Pendolino train offers Wi-Fi and a train portal with information and entertainment, reserved seats for passengers with children complete with Elfík’s Journey, an entertaining board game, as well as an on-board bistro.”
Jozef Schmidt, director of sales at Slovak Rail, comments on the SC Pendolino’s operation in Slovakia as follows: “We chose ČD’s Pendolino because we believe the quality and extent of its services have good potential at the start of direct competition with private rail carriers in Slovakia. We also believe that it will motivate a large current of passengers travelling to the Czech Republic to shift over from buses and automobiles to trains,” he adds.
Pendolino high-speed trains have provided transport in Slovakia in the past. Between 2006 and 2009, and then again in the 2010/2011 timetable, they were operated jointly by ČD and ZSSK on the SC Slovenská strela connection between Prague and Bratislava, and they also ran briefly on a line connecting Prague and Ostrava with Žilina.