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Modernization of last railway section on the Greek borders under completion – New era for freight transportation

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A few months are left for the completion of Thessaloniki-Idomeni railway line, since construction works on the last section: Polykastro-Idomeni are in their final stage.

According to ypodomes.com, in Autumn (probably in October) the project will be completed, as well as the electrification of the line, making the fully electrified corridor of Kiato-Athens-Thessaloniki-Idomeni, the main channel for the development of freight transport. When released to operation, trains will be able to develop speeds up to 160 km/h.

Already 4 companies have been licensed and 3 of them are based in Thessaloniki (TRAINOSE, Goldair Rail Cargo and MAKIOS) with their main mission being transport services from the capital of Central Macedonia to the northern borders with FYROM.

The growth of the Piraeus Port Authority (recording a huge increase, from 600k containers in 2009 to more than 4mln in 2017), the privatization of Thessaloniki Port Authority, the creation of new logistics parks in Thriassio Plain (Attica) and Gonos (Central Macedonia) as well as similar future projects in other parts of the country, prove that railway freight transport, both domestic and international will experience a sharp increase in the coming years in Greece.

Figures are indicative: from 0.5% we have already reached 1.4% (still low compared to the European average of 11%), especially from the border crossing of Idomeni, which holds the first place in the country, as, regarding rail freight traffic in 2017, it received 90% of the total traffic (the other three points are in Promachonas, Pithio and Ormenio).

In 2017, total shipments -international and domestic- reached 358mln, measured in tonne-kilometers, the best performance of the decade, making the forecast for an increase of 8% this year, probably underrated, especially with COSCO being the key “frontrunner”, implementing major upgrades in the Port of Piraeus.

According to secure sources of ypodomes.com, the ongoing developments in the railway sector has put a new proposal on the table that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport is working on; the conversion of the line to Idomeni, from single to double-track in order to prevent future congestions due to the ever inreasing traffic.

We must not forget that the completion of Polykastro-Idomeni section and the electrification of the line up to Athens and Piraeus, will allow, for the first time, the launch of fast services from the Balkans and Europe to the Greek capital, reviving old routes and creating a new market. In fact, the liberalization of the rail market in 2016 made possible for a foreign railway company to launch train services that will be starting from abroad, using the domestic network for a commercial profit.

Nevertheless, technical issues have to be sorted out as in a limited part of the network (e.g. Polikastro Bridge) trains cannot move at very high speeds, as expected.

 

Nikos Karagiannis-ypodomes.com

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