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D–O–E route - The waterway corridor in Pardubice Region – a serious designing challenge PDF Print E-mail
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D–O–E route
First kilometers to run through Slovakia or Austria
The South Moravian Region – base of the Czech water transport development
Zlín Region offers virtually ready stretches of the waterway
Olomouc Region – junction of European waterways
Moravian Silesian Region - Tradition and future
Through Poland to the navigable Oder
The waterway corridor in Pardubice Region – a serious designing challenge
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The waterway corridor in Pardubice Region – a serious designing challenge

Pardubický krajAt its lowest part, the watershed ridge between the Danube and the Elbe is about 120 ms higher than the area of the Moravian Gate. Also the morphology of the terrain, which divides the watershed to the Haná side and the Elbe flatland on the other side, is far from favourable for the D-O-E water corridor routing. Searching for optimal solution has never been an easy task. It gave birth to a large number of alternative solutions; neither of them has been so far chosen as the final one, although it is safe to say that from the large choice there are basically two, vastly different alternatives remaining. As another consequence of the section demandingness, it has always been considered as the fourth stage to be built, the last one, realized rather in farther future. When describing the technical possibilities for surpassing the altitude differences on the waterway, it was said that the concerned section of the Elbe branch is pretty much the only one suitable for effective application of boatlifts, i.e. boatlifts of extreme falls. The two options considered have already been marked as the lift and lock alternatives. The official solution has so far favoured the lift one, although modified. Nevertheless, we present it as an alternative and in the graphic insert we prefer a more exact documentation of the modernized lock route for its indisputable, while still underestimated advantages.

Benefits of water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe for Pardubice Region

The routing solution of the D-O-E water corridor in the Pardubice Region is serious challenge for bold designer engineers mainly for two reasons. Firstly, the gaps at Česká Třebová are still higher than the Moravian Gate; to lead the water corridor across will call for some more complicated facilities. Secondly, the area offers an opportunity to combine the water and the high-speed railway corridors. If such combination succeeds, it could be a “project of the century” with the top shelf technological, economic and environment-improving parameters. That would remarkably increase the tourist attractiveness of the region.


Routing and longitudinal section of the D-O-E water corridor, in 4th stage. You can download the map in full resolution  here... 

The lift route heads for the watershed through the Třebůvka River valley, which it enters at Loštice. Let us remind you of the above-mentioned conclusion, that the access to the valley leads only through the PLA Litovelské Pomoraví, which handicaps, if not disqualifies, the alternative rather heavily. Neither the entrance to the valley is easy – according to the last solution, it would require a shorter navigation tunnel. On the other hand, pass through the valley around Bouzov and Vranová Lhota would be technically rather simple all the way to Pěčíkov. Pěčíkov offers an exceptional advantage as an approximately 100-m lift could be established there, allowing ascend to the 390 ms ASL, to the altitude of the summit pool, through a single boatlift. Why should such extreme concentration of fall be seen as an advantage? First of all, the only boatlift would substitute for four high locks, which is very interesting in the least. However, that was not the chief reason of searching for a convenient place for such a high lift. 1960s saw the main and prevailing purpose of a waterway in transferring water and in the energetic effect of repumping. A long summit pool, bordered with the highest possible lifts or inclines on both the ascending and descending branches then seemed an optimal solution from the energetic point of view. It was actually a highly efficient pumped storage hydropower station. They had even managed to find the “mirror image” of Pěčíkov at Zálší near Choceň, where another 100-m incline could be established, allowing descend directly to the level of the Elbe flatland. The only remaining problem was to find a convenient route of the summit pool, which would connect, optimally on the contour level both the locations – Pěčíkov and Zálší. The route was then to run from Pěčíkov via Staré Město north from Moravská Třebová to the watershed at Třebovice and then past Česká Třebová to the Řetůvka River valley to Zálší. Running the D-O-E water corridor route in this line is far from easy. In the very beginning, it was clear that it would call for navigation tunnels (especially at Třebovice, where a deep cut is out of question for the inconvenient geological reasons) or canal bridges across the deeper valleys, which the route cannot avoid. All the same, in 1960s the lift route seemed to be the correct and sharp solution for the easiest possible pass across the watershed. Moreover, when compared to the earlier routing through the Moravská Sázava and Tichá Orlice valleys, it featured remarkable advantages.

Řeka Labe pod Kunětickou horou. 

The navigable Elbe River near Kunětická hora.

Along with a considerable lower number of locks or lifts, it prevented any collision with the main railway (corridor) lines running through the valleys. In the following years, as the lift route was being more specified, its advantages seemed to give way to ever longer stretches of problematic sections. The change of limits, which outlined the large transport of water management project in their relation to environment, also played its role. Step by step it led to efforts to reduce the environmental conflicts, or rather to their entire elimination. That was only possible with gradual increase of extremely costly solutions, especially prolonging of the navigation tunnels. Today, it seems hardly advantageous to tackle the pass across the watershed with two extremely high lifts. The idea of two high falls on each end with an efficient pumped storage hydropower station connected to the summit pool has lost its topicality to remain a criterion of convenience for the solution. One of our most significant hydro-engineers, Ing. Libor Záruba-Pfefferman, who holds credits for domestic world-class water projects, used to say that waste bin is the most valued device of every designer. He was right. Even after hundreds hours of work, when the designers reach the best possible solution, they should still be able to discard it as soon as a suspicion arises that there may be a different, more convenient way how to achieve the assigned goal. Even if it involves new and cleverer interpretations of principles, which has seemed to be outdone. In case of the D-O-E water corridor section in the Danube- Elbe watershed area, it means a return to the “old ” lock alternative, or rather its new reinterpretation. The chapter on the Olomouc Region has already established its major advantages: it entirely avoids the PLA Litovelské Pomoraví and allows easy realization of the Dubicko polder. On the other hand, the lock route has to break through the narrow valleys of the Moravská Sázava and Tichá Orlice and intrude itself into the slim space, which has been left behind the railway corridor. It runs along here the left there the right side of the valleys and at times creates a truly impassable barrier. However, concurrence of the D-O-E water and railway corridors could be treated even differently, if you get back to the above-mentioned cooperation of different types of transport in multimodal corridors, which could very conveniently appear in line with the D-O-E waterway. Gradual conversion of the traditional transit corridors into high-speed railway lines could create one element of such project. The process is relatively easy to carry out almost everywhere, with the exception of the above-mentioned valleys, as no sub-corrections would lead to the basic parameters, i.e. the line speed of conventional fast trains about 200 kms/h, and about 300 kms/h with highspeed units. Such speed requires a track route with minimal radii of bends 5,000 or even 7,000 ms. To squeeze such radii into the valleys of the Moravská Sázava and the Tichá Orlice is absolutely implausible. To achieve the high-speed parameters from Zábřeh na Moravě all the way to Choceň would only be possible if the corridor avoided the valleys entirely and a new railway route was constructed.

The approximate comparison of the main features of individual alternatives of the

The approximate comparison of the main features of individual alternatives of the
section Střelice–Dvořisko u Chocně.

The radical route transfers will naturally meet objections to their extremely high costingness. However, it is imperative to compare total costs spent on the prospective transport infrastructure as such. One of the scenarios which does not respect mutual coordination of both projects will be characterized by a sum of costs spent on hundreds of kilometres of entirely new high-speed railway tracks and on the more demanding routing of the D-O-E water corridor across the Danube–Elbe watershed, which call for a number of partial route transfers and compromises. The other alternative will require investment costs on the gradual conversion of the existing transit corridors, including the costly tunnel transfers in the above-stated short section, which is going to be considerably balanced by savings at realization of the D-O-E water corridor in the “freed” valleys. One glance only proves the second scenario to be worth minimally some decent attention. If you have agreed on such argument, it is rather simple to imagine the easy routing of the D-O-E water corridor through the water valleys of the Moravská Sázava and Tichá Orlice. It would be characterized by a meandering route requiring minimal excavation work. In places it would spread into shallow “lakes” employable in recreation, which would thrive in the peaceful environment with no loud railway. Routing through the Moravská Sázava valley would offer another special advantage: The water corridor could be easily connected with the large reservoir at Hoštejn on the Březná River, which due to the morphology, would only call for a not very expensive dam. Its flooded area would interfere with the traffic network or housing development only minorly. We dare to mention that only rather sheepishly as we can already hear the protesting voices that the waterway is of no need for such reservoir, and thus is the only cause for the flooded valley of the Březná. However, it is far from true. Considering, even just hypothetically, that in some 100 years, the pessimistic forecasts of greenhouse effect come true, as well as those of disaster collapse of Central European water balance, it will be necessary to lean the balance far more on the Danube, to transfer much larger volumes of water – but only in shorter periods which would correspond with the high discharges of this large stream. Most probably, it would be necessary to accumulate part of the water. Suitable reservoirs would have to be found (with the largest possible volume and smallest possible flooded area); they could be established even in places with no natural outlet, limited only by easy transfer of the pumped water. The reservoir on the Březná meets all such standards, as it is directly on the waterway route. There is another reservoir possibility on the Oder near Spálov, although it is quite distant from the route. However, it could concern more than just Danube water. The chapter on water management balance has already mentioned the re-distributional function of the water corridor, which should guarantee that virtually every drop is captured not to leave the country without being utilized – or even causing flood damage on its way. To achieve such goal, the river basin of the Morava above the Bečva mouth would have to be fitted with a reservoir of hundreds of millions cubic meters. Such facility is impossible to be established in the Haná flatland, but only on the very upper stretches of the Morava and its feeders, in the mountain valleys. The hydrological conditions of the area are so inconvenient, though, that the condition of maximum capture of surplus discharges would not be met even with ten such reservoirs.

V rámci modernizace druhého železničního koridoru byly nevyhovující oblouky eliminovány tunelem, který protíná meandr, resp. vrch Hejnice. Krátkým tunelem pod tímto vrchem může být vedena i trasa vodního koridoru D-O-L, která v tomto úseku prochází paralelně s železniční tratí (foto 2007). 

Modernization of the second railway corridor eliminated the inconvenient bends with a tunnel, which cuts the meander or rather the hill Hejnice. A short tunnel through this hill could accommodate even the route of the D-O-E water corridor, in this section running alongside the railway track (photo 2007).

On the other hand, the only reservoir at Hoštejn could – owing to the direct link to the D-O-E water corridor – satisfactorily manage the entire drainage of the Morava below the mouth of the Moravská Sázava, plus of the Tichá and Divoká Orlice on the Czech side of the watershed. It could easily become a crucial reservoir for the problematic water management of the river basins of the Morava above the Dyje and the Elbe above the meeting with the Vltava. It is again necessary to mention that the waterway truly does not need such reservoirs, the water management, on the other hand, will be in an urgent need of them in the time of our great grandchildren’s adulthood. We do not say more than that there are such options, which should be viewed as a benefit of the D-O-E water corridor, not as its negative feature. By no means it is trying to say that the D-O-E water corridor routing solution could not do without larger reservoirs or costly transfers of concurrent railway tracks. The last studies of the lock route suggested some further simplification of its solution. It is quite clear that locks are operationally speaking more convenient than boatlifts, as they allow one-time locking of even longer convoys. However, it is not to be omitted that this feature could turn less advantageous when there are too many successive locks on a relatively long route given by the pass over the watershed. Although the watershed in Dobrouč gap is quite morphologically and geologically convenient, it requires a rather significant deflection to the north. The entire section between Střelice and Dvořisko u Chocně would thus call for 13 locks, while the lift alternative only for 4 locks and 2 high rise lifts.

 Vedení vysokorychlostní železnice mimo uzel Česká Třebová. Vyžádal by si výstavbu dvou dlouhých tunelů. Jedním z nich by bylo možné převést vodní koridor D-O-L. 

Other example of an appropriate high-speed railway routing is near the Česká Třebová junction. It would call for two long tunnels, one of which could probably accommodate even the D-O-E water corridor.

The engineers tried to shorten the lock route as well as reduce the number of its locks. It was rather tempting to lower the summit pool, resign on the lowest spot of the continental watershed and build a navigation tunnel. However unconventional proposal is, it does not steer that far away from common practice to be found too odd. We have already mentioned the longest navigation tunnel of the world, which was built in France at the beginning of 20th century. It is 7.12 kms long and its profile is larger than the one required for the D-O-E water corridor purposes. It was built by conventional tunnelling methods, which have been long outdone by the modern methods especially due to constructions of motorway tunnels. The efforts to find a tunnel route with the summit pool at the considerably lower altitude was thus by no means inept – the lift route had to count with tunnels anyway. Eventually, between Rudoltice and Dlouhá Třebová, there was designated an area, where the watershed could be surpassed in a tunnel of 7.6 kms, while the current altitude of the summit pool was lowered by 40 ms, the route length was reduced, and the number of locks got smaller by 4. However, the gained savings, especially on the four locks, would be exceeded by the extra costs on the long tunnel. The approximate comparison of the main features of individual alternatives of the section Střelice–Dvořisko u Chocně are best shown in a simple table. Construction of 7.6-km tunnel between Rudoltice and Dlouhá Třebová brings about the question of transport capacity of the waterway. The tunnel would naturally be one vessel only in order to keep its costs bearable. It seems that the problem has a solution; moreover the tunnel has one rather important feature: very conveniently, it could accommodate even the high-speed track, which would thus avoid not only the junction of Česká Třebová but also the unfavourable bends to the east and west of the tunnel. Thus, it would deal with the last obstacles in the way of “new generation expresses” on this spinal line connection. Nevertheless, it should be admitted that the final choice of the optimal routing of the D-O-E water corridor in the area of the Danube–Elbe watershed is not an easy one. Wide and largely unconventional solutions are in the game and the final word has not been uttered yet. Let us lighten the topic with the following description, which leaves behind the demanding terrain and moves to the area of Dvořisko u Chocně.

Zdymadlo na Labi v Pardubicích bylo dokončeno v roce 1969. Na zdrž tohoto stupně má navazovat vlastní koridor D-O-L

Navigation lock on the River Elbe in Pardubice was completed in 1969. At its basin has follow the route of D-O-E water corridor.

All the proposed alternative routes again meet up there and the next part of the route leads through a rather simple terrain to the south from the main railway line all the way to the eastern outskirts of Pardubice, where it crosses the track and finally joins the Elbe. That is also, where our tour comes to the end. At conclusion of the chapter, there is one note only to be added.

Although it could seem that the attention to the fourth stage of the D-O-E water corridor realization in the complex of concurrent types of transport would be directly proportional to the complexity of the problematic, it is rather the other way round. There have occurred partial adjustments of railway corridor routes while the designers are not aware of the fact that there is a certain interest in realization of a waterway in the area. The attention of respective authorities to the solution of the project in this demanding section equals zero. Thus, conflicts are rather being produced than efficiently resolved.