Greece and Bulgaria are two key European states on the transportation map, ensuring railway, fluvial and maritime connections on the Europe-Asia axis. To increase the traffic flow and implicitly the transit degree, the two countries launch projects to revitalise the infrastructure, the ports being important points in the freight delivery and receipt.
Therefore, for the purpose of creating a multimodal corridor between the ports of Greece and Bulgaria, in January 2013, the European Union has announced that through the TEN-T programme it grants financing for the elaboration of the feasibility study on the execution of railway connections with a series of fluvial ports in the north-eastern part of Greece and Bulgaria. The total cost of the project reaches EUR 1.5 Million, out of which the EU will finance EUR 750,000 (the studies being covered in a 50% share).
Practically, the project aims at creating a transport corridor on the Aegean Sea-Black Sea-Danube axis. Named “Sea2Sea”, the project will develop the transport corridor concept, by executing connections between the ports of Greece (from the Aegean Sea) to the Bulgarian ones, from the Black Sea through railway links, offering an alternative route to the Bosphorus Strait. In addition, the link between the fluvial ports in the Danube region will also be analysed. The project should be completed by the end of 2014.
To ensure the railway connection between the ports of the two countries, in March, the company Ergose (the subsidiary of the Greek Railway) initiated the construction works for the line between the port of Alexandroupoli and the Bulgarian ports at the Black Sea. The cost of the project amounts to EUR 4 Million and should be completed within 12 months. Alexandroupoli has become a strategic port, which provides fast connection to Burgas and Varna and, according to the experts, the cost of the railway transport will be much lower and will reduce the travel time from 2 days to 6 hours.
Greece focuses intensely on the development of the railway infrastructure initiating projects to improve the railway freight transport and to facilitate the connections to the ports. According to the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), the projects to be launched will turn Greece into an important provider for the transport services in south-eastern Europe and for the provision of logistics services on the Far East, Balkans, Central and South-Eastern Europe axis.
One of the important projects ensuring the railway connection between the port of Piraeus and the European railway network is the launch of the line (in February 2013) connecting the container terminal of Neo Ikonio (located near the main port of Piraeus), on the Athens-Kiato railway axis, to the railway complex Thriasio, where the main logistics centre of Greece is located. The project of the 17-km line was announced since 2000, but it was constantly interrupted because of financial constraints. According to the company Ergose, the budget of the project reaches EUR 156.6 Million, the financing being ensured by the Cohesion Fund (50%) and by the state budget (50%).
Equally for the infrastructure modernisation, in February, EU announced that it will allocate EUR 1 Million for the elaboration of studies on the completion of the railway line between Athens and Thessaloniki. The funds will be used to perform the hydraulic and structural studies for two sections of the Athens- Aharnes sector. The first section will be 2.3-km long and will be built on the underground starting from the main rail station in Athens. The second section will be 3-km long and will consist of a double track that will go round the centre of Aharnes city.
Greece tries to focus its investment on railway projects and those whose purpose is the insurance of the connections from railway networks to ports, and this objective aims at ameliorating and developing the railway network with ports, with logistics and industrial centres, as well as improving the transport connection to neighbouring states.