Plzeň’s Škoda Transportation company has signed a contract with the German state railway operator Deutsche Bahn worth 2.6 billion crowns, to produce six new trains for the neighboring region of Bavaria. The trains will be made up of locomotives type 109E and five double-deck passenger cars, specially designed for Deutsche Bahn’s regional operator DB Regio. The trains are scheduled to begin running in December 2016. The contract with one of the top railway companies in Europe will help open more international opportunities for Škoda Transportation.
The Supreme Audit Office has found that the construction of Czech highways could have been cheaper by one-fifth: one kilometer of new highway in past construction projects, averaged 416 million crowns. The bureau focused on road construction from 2008 to 2012 and included comparisons with neighboring Germany in its valuation. A network of roads and throughways conceived in the 1990s by the Transport Ministry was to have been completed by now. But according to current estimates, it could take another 32 years and cost the state 520 billion crowns before all plans are fulfilled.
Some 10,000 Czech homes were left without electricity after strong winds and storms on Sunday, particularly in the Central Bohemian, Pardubice and Plzeň regions. Fire fighters responded in some 350 cases on Sunday afternoon and night in western Bohemia, and dozens of cases in the Moravian Olomouc and Zlín regions. Because of the large number of high voltage facilities that were damaged, a state of emergency has been temporarily declared in the Pardubice and Central Bohemian regions. Twenty-five people (18 of them youngsters) were evacuated from a children’s camp in Jablečná na Rokycansku.
The oldest Czech man, Karel Kašpárek, has died on Sunday night in the town of Náchod. Mr. Kašpáerk, who was also born in Náchod, celebrated his 107th birthday this past December. He has lived in Náchod’s home for the elderly for the past 12 years, but was self-sufficient until fairly recently. The oldest living Czech woman, Evangelie Čarasová who was born in Greece, celebrated her 109th birthday in February. According to official figures from June, there are 850 centenarians living in the Czech Republic.
Petr Zusak and Michal Dočekal, who were until recently the artistic directors of ballet and drama at the Czech National Theater, have called on Prime Minister Rusnok to immediately dismiss the Culture Minister Jiří Balvín. They have asked the caretaker prime minister to name a strong leader to the post. Mr. Balvín undermined his own position in the eyes of many members of the artistic community when he fired the head of the National Theater Jan Burian last Thursday, and then re-instated him under pressure from the prime minister a day later. In protest over the dismissal, artistic directors of all three sections of the theater as well as over 20 actors and directors resigned last week.
Walt Disney Pictures has expressed an interest in being the international distributor for a new nature documentary film Aldabra, which was shot by a Czech team on a remote island of the same name in the Indian Ocean. The film, which should be released in 3D in the Czech Republic in October, was directed by Steve Lichtag, who was born in Znojmo as Zdeněk Loveček. Disney pictures have already provided and advisor for the team and has begun preparing the English version of the commentary. The music for the film was created by a Czech-American team of artists including the Prague-based Robert Jíša, member of the band King Crimson Tony Levin and even Peter Gabriel. The island Aldabra, which Jacques Cousteau visited some sixty years ago, is an uninhabited coral atoll with a wealth of exotic wildlife and underwater fauna.
Asked on a Sunday TV debate programme what he thought his
government’s chances in the confidence vote were, Prime Minister Rusnok
said he thought it would get 96 or 97 votes in the 200-member Chamber of
Deputies and expressed the convicition that would be enough. He said the
numbers were difficult to gauge given the dynamic
nature of the lower house but stated that Wednesday would be decisive. The
former centre-right coalition says it has a 101 majority but it is unclear
all of its MPs will be on hand for the confidence vote due to summer
Meanwhile, a new STEM/MARK poll commissioned by public broadcaster Czech TV has shed light on how members of the public view the coalition government: 37 percent answered it was a government of friends of President Miloš Zeman; 15 percent sees it as a government of experts, and 7 percent as a cabinet of the Citizens’ Rights – Zemanites party.
In related news, Bohuslav Sobotka, the head of the opposition Social Democrats, has told iDnes that even if the country’s caretaker government survives its confidence vote, he will continue to push for early elections. In an interview for the website, the party leader emphasised it was necessary to stop President Zeman from further expanding his influence, saying there hadn’t been a need to defend democratic principles so strongly prior to the existence of the current cabinet. Following the collapse of the last government, President Zeman ignored lawmakers – as well as parliamentary principles, according to some critics – by naming his close associate, Jiří Rusnok, prime minister. The Social Democrats are divided on the issue: some within the party maintain the caretaker government is better than a return by the centre-right.
Meteorologists have again registered record temperatures across the Czech Republic: on Saturday parts of the country saw almost 39 degrees Celsius – five degrees higher than was predicted just a few days ago. The country has seen a heat wave for the second weekend in a row. Brod nad Dyjí in the Břeclav area saw 38.7 degrees; Prague and Brno also saw temperatures above 38. Meanwhile, it was revealed that July was the sixth-hottest in the country in 80 years and meteorologists say that warmer than average weather will continue throughout the month of August.
In related news, parts of the country were hit by sudden storms late Saturday and early Sunday: North Bohemia, including the city of Liberec, was hit by strong winds and rain at around 11 PM. Hail also fell in places; no serious damage was reported. Storms are expected to hit most of the Czech Republic later on Sunday. A thunderstorm hit Prague shortly before six pm.