HELLENIC Railways' infrastructure projects subsidiary Ergose confirmed in mid-September that it had awarded a contract to Thales for the installation of ETCS Level 1 trackside equipment on the main line between Athens and Thessaloniki.

Thales will also equip the 143 km line from Thessaloniki to the Bulgarian border at Promahónas, plus the line to Kiato in the Pelepponesos. This is the first phase of the new line to Patros, which diverges from the standard gauge route to Korinthos currently being equipped with Level 1 by Siemens.

Earlier this year Ergose selected Ansaldo to supply on-train equipment for 130 trainsets, including 36 DMUs, 66 diesel and electric locos and 20 Desiro EMUs. Completion of both contracts is expected in 2009, after which the suppliers will be required to maintain the equipment for two years.

The Athens – Thessaloniki route is currently signalled for 160 km/h, but Ergose plans to use infill Eurobalises in each block section to permit 200 km/h operation.

In August Ergose awarded two contracts totalling €40m to Alstom for installation of 25 kV 50 Hz catenary on the 100 km double-track route from SKA (near Athens) to Kiato and the 22 km single-track branch from Inoi to Halkida. Both projects are due for completion by mid-2009, and will see line speeds improved from 120 to 160 km/h on the Kiato route and from 80 to 120 km/h on the line to Halkida.