GREECE: The first train ran on the recently-completed 54 km Tithorea – Lianokladi line on February 2, following the formal handover of the new line on January 31. The route forms part of a 106 km double track alignment which is being built between Tithorea and Domokos to replace a 122 km single track route with steep grades and sharp curves which formed a bottleneck on the Athens – Thessaloniki main line.

Freight services are currently using the new line and passenger services the old line while driver training is completed. Electrification will not be completed until April, so the trains are currently diesel hauled.

Designed for passenger trains running at up to 200 km/h and 160 km/h freight trains, the new alignment uses ballasted track on the open sections and slab track in the tunnels. The line includes the 9 038 m twin-bore Kallidromo tunnel, the longest railway tunnel in the Balkans.

The Lianokladi – Domokos section is scheduled to open later this year, including the 6 380 m twin-bore Othris tunnel. This will reduce the journey time for Athens – Thessaloniki inter-city services to 3½ h.

Construction of the new route began in 1997. As well as the two long tunnels, it includes 12 double-track tunnels with a total length of 4 500 m, 18 double track cut-and-cover sections totalling 2 374 m and 49 bridges with a total length of 6 086 m. There are stations at Molos, Agios Stefanos, Aggies and Thavmakos.

The overall cost is put at €1·8bn, including EU co-financing.