A CONSORTIUM headed by Greek construction company Aegek has been named as temporary contractor for the 9·6 km first phase of the long-planned metro in Thessaloniki.

Budgeted at €798m, the first phase would run underground through the city centre from the main station in the north to Nea Elvetia in the south, serving 13 stations. The line will have an initial capacity of 10800 passengers/h in each direction, with trains running at 21/2 min headways; ridership at opening is forecast at 10050 passengers/h each way.

The project is being managed by Athens metro operator Attiko Metro AE. The European Investment Bank is providing €550m towards the cost, with another €250m coming from the EU's Third Community Support Framework.

AnsaldoBreda is to supply 18 fully-automated trainsets between 50m and 60m long with capacity of at least 450 passengers each. Powered at 750V DC from a third rail, they will have a top speed of 80 km/h. Other members of the winning consortium are Italian construction company Impregilo and Greek firms Seli and TSF. Construction is expected to begin in 2006 and is to take approximately 61/2 years including a period of pre-opening trial running.

The next phase would add a second line, sharing 10 of the existing stations before diverging to serve Stavroupoli in the north and Kalamaria in the south. This would require the fleet to be increased to 50 trainsets. Ridership is expected to reach 18000 passengers/h in each direction by 2020, with headways cut to 90sec. In the longer term, plans exist to extend the first line to Kordelio or Evosmos in the north, and the airport in the south.

  • Four consortia, headed by J&P, Alpine Mayreder, Impregilo, and Aktor, have been shortlisted for a contract to extend Athens metro Line 3 to Haidari, in the northwest of the city. Financial bids were due on September 22, and the winner is to be named by the end of the year. Adding 1·5 km and four stations, the €200m extension is expected to open by the end of 2008.