Czechoslovak light rail — Legacy of socialist urbanism or opportunity for the future?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, mode - tram/light rail, place - europe, place - urban, policy - sustainable


Urban transport, Light rail, Fast tram (‘rychlá tramvaj’), Prague, Bratislava, Brno


This article focuses on the development of the Czechoslovak ‘rychlá tramvaj’ (‘fast tram’) systems in Prague, Bratislava and Brno. Its aim is to examine whether these systems meet the requirements of light rail and whether it is possible to continue their development as a functional light rail city transport system. A further aim is a detailed analysis of the conditions and contexts affecting the gradual development of ‘rychlá tramvaj’ schemes in three selected metropolises in the former Czechoslovakia.

Urban development in Czechoslovakia was affected by the socialist planning system that constructed large housing estates on the edges of metropolises during the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, many commuters had to be moved between them and city centres daily; therefore, the necessity for high-capacity ‘rychlá tramvaj’ connections became apparent. After socio-political changes in 1989, a market economy was introduced and the trends of commercial and residential suburbanization have modified the spatial structure of the cities, and mobility has begun to be increasingly dependent on cars. In response to this, city councils departed from further development of ‘rychlá tramvaj’ schemes. Currently, the emphasis on sustainable mobility is apparent, principally because of smart city solutions, an environmental focus and a common European transport policy; thus, municipalities are rediscovering the virtues of light rail lines again. Because the ‘rychlá tramvaj’ systems from the 1970s and 1980s are still in operation, transforming them into modern light rail systems appears to be a convenient and cheap solution.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Journal of Transport Geography home Page: