Selected to host the 2004 summer Olympic Games, Athens is making a substantial investment in expanding its transport infrastructure to handle the crowds. Both recently-opened metro lines are being expanded, the suburban railways upgraded, and a new light rail network is starting to take shape

WITHN THE next three months, a new international airport will open at Spata outside the Greek capital. Designed to handle around 16 million passengers a year, it is to be linked to the centre of Athens by a 35 km suburban rail route. The airport is one of many transport infrastructure projects which are being put in place around Athens, as the Greeks prepare to host the 2004 Olympic Games. Substantial investment has been allocated for rail, including the development of a suburban network, expansion of the metro and construction of a new light rail line.

Over the next four years, the Greek government plans to develop a 281 route-km suburban rail network incorporating existing Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) lines of standard and metre gauge, new rail links to Spata Airport and Korinthos, and two reopened branches. Total cost of the package is estimated at 568bn drachmae, which will be met by a mix of government and European Union funds and private finance.

A separate suburban railway company is to be set up under the auspices of Ergose, the construction arm of OSE. In line with EU directives, OSE is currently implementing a five-year restructuring into separate infrastructure and operating units, and the suburban business is expected to be one of the first units to be offered as a private sector concession. OSE is being advised by Gibb Rail on the restructuring, and Ergose has appointed Halcrow to act as project manager for the investment scheme.

Much of the investment for the suburban network falls within OSE's 2001-06 development plan, which allocates 1200bn drachmae for projects throughout the 2452 km network. This also includes the electrification of the Athens - Thessaloniki main line; so far the 40 km from Paleofarsalos to Kranonas has been wired, and masts are in place for a further 330 route-km.

Hub of the suburban network will be a new interchange north of the city centre, known as SKA - the Acharnai Transportation Centre. From here lines will radiate to Spata Airport, Korinthos, Piraeus, Megara, Thiva and Chalkis.

Top priority is the 35 km airport link, which will largely follow the central reservation of the new Attiki Odos ring road. En route it will connect with an extension of metro Line 3 at Stavros. Beyond the airport, the new line will later be continued to Markoupoulo, where it will meet the route of the abandoned metre-gauge Athens - Lavrio branch. The final 30 km of this route will be reconstructed and reopened.

The final 18 km of OSE's existing main line from SKA through Athens to Piraeus is being upgraded ready for the arrival of a fleet of Siemens Desiro EMUs and GTW 2/6 low-floor diesel railcars from a consortium of Hellenic Shipyards, Adtranz and Stadler. Northwards, suburban services will run over 52 km of the main line to Inoi. Some will continue on the main line for a further 29 km to Thiva, and others will diverge onto the 20 km branch to Chalkis.

Korinthos is currently linked to Athens by OSE's metre-gauge Pelepponesos line, which follows the coast for 100 km via Megara. OSE expects to complete a new standard-gauge line from Athens to Patra by 2008-10, offering a 2h journey time.

The SKA - Korinthos section is first priority, and Ergose is pushing ahead with construction of a 105 km double-track route from Thriasio Pedio to Korinthos, designed for 200 km/h, with a maximum grade of 1·5%. Between SKA and Kiato station in Korinthos there will be 6·9 km of tunnel and 1950m of bridges, including a new bridge over the Korinthos canal. There will also be 11 stations, and journey time is put at 45min. Cost of the SKA - Kiato section is 163bn drachmae. Civil engineering has been completed on 29route-km, with a further 22 km to be finished during 2001.

The 5 km branch from Isthmos to Loutraki will be reconstructed and reopened as part of the suburban network, and suburban services will be introduced on a 41 km residual section of the metre-gauge line between Athens and Megara.

In the longer term OSE hopes to extend the standard gauge beyond Patra to Pyrgos and from Korinthos to Nafplio. This would leave only two metre-gauge routes: Argos - Tripoli - Kalamata and Pyrgos - Kalamata. Because of the long timescale for the project, further investment is planned to upgrade the existing metre-gauge routes.

Metro keeps growing

At the end of August, the Athens - Piraeus Electric Railway took delivery of the first of two of 40 three-car EMUs which were ordered to start the replacement of its oldest stock. The ISAP line between Piraeus and Kifissia, now designated Line 1 of the metro, is currently handling around 300000 passengers a year.

The stainless steel cars are being assembled locally by a consortium of Hellenic Shipyards, Adtranz and Siemens, and all should be in traffic by the end of 2002. Adtranz is supplying mechanical and electrical components, and Siemens is providing the traction and train control systems and signalling equipment. Designed to run in six-car formations, the AC-motored units are formed as three-car sets with two driving and one non-driving vehicle.

Meanwhile, state-owned metro operator Attiko Metro inaugurated the first phase of its underground network just a year ago (RG 3.00 p165). This comprises 6·5 km sections of two routes: Line 2 from Sepolia to Syntagma and Line 3 from Syntagma to Ethniki Amyna; by mid-year the two routes were handling a total of 350000 passengers a day.

The remaining 4·1 km of Line 2 from Syntagma to Dafni was opened on November 15, and the next 1·1 km of Line 3 between Syntagma and the Line 1 interchange at Monastiraki will follow in 2002. This will bring the underground network to 18 km and 21 stations. Around 80% of the 2bn euros cost has been met by the European Union and the European Investment Bank, with the rest coming from the Greek government. Construction is being undertaken by the Olympic Metro consortium, which combines 23 French, German and Greek companies, under the management of Bechtel.

The second phase of the project is expected to get under way shortly, at an estimated cost of around 1bn euros (MR 00 p27). This will add further extensions to both Lines 2 and 3, including connections to the suburban network and the Spata airport rail link. Around half of the funding will come from the EU's Community Support Framework, with the rest to be raised through a private finance initiative.

Top priority will be the 4·2 km extension of Line 3 from Monastiraki to Egaleo, with stations at Votanikos, Geoponiki, Aghios Savvas and Estavromenos Square. Tenders for construction of this section were due to be lodged by mid-October, and the line is to be completed in 40 months from contract signing. The extension is forecast to handle around 75000 passengers/day.

Preparatory work was also expected to start by the end of 2000 on the 2·7 km Line 2 extension from Sepolia to Thivon Avenue, which will have intermediate stations at Aghios Antonios and Town Hall. Costed at 12·5bn drachmae, the extension is forecast to handle 55000 passengers/day. A short 1·3 km extension from Dafni to Ilioupoli is also envisaged as part of this phase.

The metro's principal investment for the Olympic Games will be the 5·3 km eastern extension of Line 3 from Ethniki Amyna to Stavros, where there will be an interchange to the airport rail link. Running in tunnel for the entire length, the route is forecast to handle over 125000 passengers/day. To speed up the work and ensure the route is open by 2004, only two of the five planned stations will be completed in the initial phase.

One option currently being discussed is to equip the Stavros - Spata section of the suburban line to metro standards and operate through services from Line 3 to the airport.

Light rail to the coast

On December 5 2000, Transport Minister Christos Verelis announced details of the surface light rail network which is to be built to augment the metro in time for the Olympic Games. Following an initial announcement by the Minister of Public Works last January, the ministry and the Municipality of Athens commissioned studies into the route. A second study was conducted for the Ministry of Transport by the National Technical University of Athens.

The Y-shaped network is eventually intended to link the city centre with the coastal towns of Glyfada and Neo Faliro and the port of Piraeus. En route it will serve five of the Olympic sports venues which are currently being developed. Two branches will run inland from a point near Ellinikon, forming a loop which will also serve the depot.

The first two phases, to be completed by the end of 2003, are costed at 107bn drachmae. These will cover the 12·7 km core route from Zappeion Park in the city centre to Paleo Faliro, and the 8 km coastal route from there to Glyfada. The second phase routes from Piraeus to Keratsini and Goudi to Keramikos would add a further 20·9 km.

A public-sector body is to be set up to oversee the development of the project, and tenders are to be called shortly for a consultant to assist with selection of a private sector partner. The intention is to award a 20 or 25-year concession to design, build and operate the light rail lines.

Around 40% of the cost of the first phase will be required to cover the civil works, with 60% for signalling, electrification and rolling stock. The civil element will be state-financed, leaving the concessionaire to fund and recoup the cost of the E&M elements.

  • CAPTION: Under construction for several years, the new Athens - Korinthos line parallels a new motorway through Agioi Theodoroi (bottom). The Trikerato tunnel at Elefsina (inset) is nearing completion
  • CAPTION: A new bridge is planned to carry the standard-gauge link across the Korinthos canal; an MAN-HSYS metre-gauge DMU crosses the existing structure
  • CAPTION: Athens - Piraeus Electric Railway is currently taking delivery of 40 new three-car units to modernise its fleet on what is now known as metro Line 1. Two of the sets, built by a consortium of Hellenic Shipyards, Siemens and Adtranz, are seen on test at Thissio depot in October
  • CAPTION: The 5 km extension of metro Line 2 from Syntagma to Akropolis and Dafni (above) was inaugurated on November 15. As with the initial sections of the underground network, the station decoration reflects the city's archaeological heritage (above right). Ahead of the inauguration, Attiko Metro president Leonidas Kikiras (right of centre photo) took Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis (left) to visit the new terminus on November 2 Photos:Artemis Klonos

Trois réseaux préparent les déplacements des foules olympiques

Choisie pour accueillir les Jeux Olympiques 2004, la ville d'Athènes va réaliser des investissements substantiels en accroissant ses infrastructures de transport afin d'être prête ... transporter la foule des spectateurs. Un ensemble de services suburbains de grande capacité sera superposé aux grandes lignes des OSE, y compris une nouvelle liaison vers l'aéroport de Spata et vers Korinthos. Les deux lignes de métro, 2 et 3, récemment ouvertes seront allongées et du nouveau matériel sera livré pour la ligne 1. Un réseau de tramway en Y sera créé pour relier le centre ville aux manifestations olympiques qui se dérouleront le long de la c"te, entre Piraeus et Glyfada

Drei Systeme bewegen die Olympischen Besucher

Athen macht grosse Investitionen in die Verkehrsinfrastruktur in Hinblick auf den Besucherandrang der Olympischen Sommerspiele 2004. Ein Netz von leistungsfähigen Vorortsverbindungen wird den OSE Haupt-Korridoren aufgesetzt, inklusive neuen Verbindungen nach dem Flughafen Spata und Korinthos. Die beiden vor Kurzem er"ffneten U-Bahn-Linien 2 und 3 werden erweitert, und die Linie 1 erhält neue Fahrzeuge. Ein Y-f"rmiges Stadtbahnnetz zur Verbindung des Stadtzentrums mit den olympischen Veranstaltungsorten zwischen Piraeus und Glyfada befindet sich im Aufbau

Tres redes se preparan para movilizar a las multitudes olímpicas

Athens, la sede que acoger los juegos olímpicos de verano en 2004, est llevando a cabo un programa de inversión en la expansión de su infraestructura de transportes con vistas a poder gestionar el movimiento de las grandes multitudes que se espera recibir. Se est procediendo con la instalación de una red de alta capacidad de cercanías en los principales corredores de la OSE, incluyéndose nuevos lazos al aeropuerto de Spata y a Korinthos. Asimismo, se est n ampliando las líneas 2 y 3 de metro recientemente estrenadas y la línea 1 est recibiendo un nuevo parque de trenes. Por otra parte, se est desarrollando una red de tranvía para enlazar al centro con los puntos en los que tendr n lugar los eventos olímpicos a lo largo de la costa entre Piraeus y Glyfada