Representatives from Germany and the Czech Republic, including rail firms Deutsche Bahn and Správa železnic, have announced a partnership that will work to develop a new cross-border rail link between Dresden and Prague.

Officials from both countries have signed a corresponding agreement in Dresden.

Free State of Saxony Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer said: “The new Dresden-Prague line is a sustainable European transport project with central importance for the Free State. Saxony has been campaigning for the realisation of the connection as an important gateway to south-east Europe for many years.

“Our goal is to relieve the Elbe valley of freight traffic and noise. Residents, travellers and the environment all benefit from this. Together with the federal government, Deutsche Bahn and the Czech Republic, Saxony will continue to advance the project. ”

German rail company Deutsche Bahn said that the new rail link will reduce the journey time between Prague and Dresden from two hours 15 minutes to one hour.

The focus of the project is a new line between Heidenau in Saxony and Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic with a 25km-long cross-border tunnel under the Ore Mountains.

Czech Republic Vice-President and Transport Minister Karel Havlíček said: “The vision of shortening the travel time between Prague and Dresden to 60 minutes and shifting freight traffic from the congested Elbe valley is a great chance for both countries that it would be a big mistake not to take advantage of them.”

A spatial planning procedure is currently underway for the project in Saxony. In this process, seven path corridors, including three so-called ‘full tunnel variants’, will be assessed.

This process is expected to be completed this year.

The German-Czech project team is simultaneously preparing steps for tenders for the Erzgebirge tunnel in the upcoming weeks.