EU funds for Greek urban rail projects

Thessaloniki, Athens and Piraeus are the most important Greek cities that continue to develop their public transport systems and prioritise rail transport. Projects are included in the country’s operational programmes and will receive European financing.

Through the 20 national and regional programmes, Greece benefits from structural funds and European investment funds (ESIF) worth EUR 20.4 billion for the 2014-2020 financing period. The country’s budget for this period is EUR 24.96 billion of which, the national grant is of over EUR 4.6 billion. For public transport, European financing projects aim to upgrade and/or build 39 km of tram and metro railways.
The European Commission has recently announced the allocation of EUR 1.3 billion for the large projects initiated in the preceding financial exercise to be completed in 2014-2020. Over EUR 1 billion of the amount went to rail transport projects. EUR 377 million have been recently allocated to the public transport systems in Athens and Attica region (or Athens’ metropolitan area). Three projects will be financed using this sum, of which one for metro development, another for the extension of the tram network, while the last project refers to the automatic fare collection system.
For the development of Piraeus tram system, which includes the extension of the railway from the centre to the port, EC allocated EUR 58 million through the Cohesion Policy. The project stipulates the construction of 13 stations and the acquisition of 25 vehicles.
Also, EU allocated EUR 261 million for the extension of Line 3 through the western suburbs of Athens to Piraeus. The project includes the construction of 6 metro stations and the procurement of 17 new trains. According to plans, the line should be placed into service as of 2020 and serve 174,000 residents from Athens. The railway extension to Piraeus will cover the distance between the Port and the International Airport in 45 minutes, reducing CO2 emissions by 120 tonnes.
Attiko Metro deals with the construction of the section as part of the Line 3 project to Piraeus. The project includes the extension of the network from Neo Faliro to the centre of Piraeus for which works were initiated in 2013; another branch of the project consists in the conversion of Line 1 (ISAP) on Neo Faliro – Piraeus section in an underground structure and the construction of an additional station in Keranis Factory area; the extension of the tram network to Keratsini – Perama (both suburbs of Athens) through an underground alignment. A tunnel section of 6.5km will be built using TBMs while the remaining sections to both end directions will be built in the underground, but using the excavation method. Within the project, Piraeus station will become a transport hub also connected to metro lines 1 and 3, to the port, the tram network and the suburban railway network.
In February 2017, tunnelling works were 67.5% completed, while construction works to Aghia Varvara, Nikea, Maniatika, Piraeus, Dimotiko Theatro stations were underway.
It is important to say that the tender for the first metro section part of Line 4 will be announced this year. The project stipulates the construction of 11.7 km of railway with 14 stations estimated at EUR 1.2 billion. Line 4 will be 32 km long with 30 stations and will require investments of around EUR 3,3 billion.
Also, EC granted EUR 18 million for the design, installation and operation of the automatic data collection system of Athens public transport system, including from the metropolitan area. Paper tickets will be eliminated and replaced by electronic tickets.

EUR 730 million for Thessaloniki metro

Thessaloniki metro system, the second biggest city of Greece, received EUR 730 million through the Cohesion Fund. To complete the driverless metro system, the Main Line, UE allocated EUR 407 million, an amount which includes the construction of new tunnels, rehabilitation works to existing stations and the procurement of 24 trains. The project includes the construction of a 9.5km railway and 13 stations at a cost of EUR 800 million. In April 2017, the second TBM reached Analipsi Station completing the second tunnel of the line segment, also marking the completion of the tunnelling works. After the beginning of operation in 2020, the railway will ensure the transport of 247,000 passengers per day.
Thessaloniki metro project also includes the extension to Kalamaria, south-west of the city for which EC granted EUR 323 million. This extension includes a double line of 4,78 km and 5 new stations. For this section, in 2014, the European Investment Bank granted a EUR 200 million financing. It is estimated that this extension will have a capacity of 65,000 passengers and will contribute to the decreasing number of private vehicles. The journey from Mikra end station to the city centre will take 15 minutes.
According to the latest information of Attiko Metro, at the beginning of 2017, different types of construction works were carried out at all 5 metro stations (Nomarchia, Kalamaria, Aretsou, Nea Krini and Mikra).
In April 2017, Greek Minister of Transport Christos Spirtzis declared that operation tests would be carried out for both projects in 2019.
Apart from the financing granted to public transport projects in the three cities, EC granted EUR 50 million for sustainable mobility development in the Peloponnese Peninsula, in the south of Greece. The investment will cover modernisations works to the railway section between Diakofto and Rododafni, contributing to the economic development of the region and to the diversification of freight and passenger transport modes between main cities and ports. The section is part of Athens-Patras railway, connecting the ports of Patras and Piraeus to Athens International Airport. The railway is important due to its location on the Orient/East-Mediterranean Corridor of TEN-T.

by Pamela Luica

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