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Signaling systems cause slight delay to Kiato – Aegio railway section delivery

Νίκος Καραγιάννης



Another step that will bring us closer to the reopening of Kiato-Aegio railway line that has been discontinued for 12 years, will be taken next week. According to well-informed sources of, a crucial test route will be carried out to show whether the new 71-km double-track line is ready and safe to operate.

Safety certificates for the six tunnels of the department are also pending. For the test, the fire brigade, the police and other security forces will also participate, as it has happened in the recent safety trial that took place in Kallidromos and Othrys tunnels.

What blocks the delivery of these sections is the operation of the signaling system, which, as the same sources point out, was destroyed during the floods that affected the area last November, resulting to their re-installation.

For that reason a supplementary contract was approved a few days ago to complete the works that have started back in 2015. According to estimates, it will take about 3-4 months for the completion all the required projects.

OSE will then receive the project from ERGOSE, allowing TRAINOSE to launch its new services up to Aegio, which will become the new terminal of the railway line. Without any additional delays, this could probably happen in the summer.

In the new section, 3 new railway stations will operate: Ksylokastro, Akrata, Aegio and 6 stops: Diminio, Lykoporia, Lygia, Platanos, Diakopto and Eliki. The speed that can be developed will be 200 km/h for the Kiato-Lykoporia section and 150 km/h for Lykoporia-Aegio section.

Initially, the operation of the new double-track line will be without electrification as the relevant tender is still in progress while it will take 24 months from the signing of the contract to its completion.



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FirstGroup-Trenitalia wins West Coast Partnership

ypodomes team




Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) has selected a joint venture of FirstGroup and Trenitalia UK as operator of the West Coast Partnership (WCP) franchise, which encompasses inter-city services on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) and the initial phase of operations on High Speed 2 (HS2).

The 70:30 First Trenitalia West Coast Rail joint venture will take over operations from Virgin Trains on December 8. In the first phase of the franchise, First Trenitalia will operate existing InterCity West Coast (ICWC) services while acting as shadow operator for HS2, providing design, development and mobilisation services for the new line from London to Birmingham and Crewe.

First Trenitalia will operate ICWC services as a normal franchise, sharing revenue risk with the DfT through a GDP-based revenue protection mechanism and an additional Forecast Revenue Mechanism (FRM) from April 2021.

The former mitigates the financial impact of macroeconomic conditions, while the FRM can be triggered if revenue variances exceed a set threshold from the bid assumptions for any reason. FirstGroup says it believes its TransPennine Express and South Western Railway operations would have remained profitable if these revenue sharing mechanisms had been included in the agreements for these franchises.


First Trenitalia expects to generate premium payments of £1.6bn in real Net Present Value during the first phase. the joint venture will directly fund £11m of residual value assets, and deductions from the premium will fund First Trenitalia’s £252m investment in the first phase. A further £453m will be funded by rolling stock leasing companies for new and refurbished trains.

First Trenitalia forecasts a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) for seat miles of approximately 1.2% annually during the first phase. Passenger revenues, which were £1.2bn in 2018-2019, are expected to increase at a mid-single digit CAGR over the duration of the first phase, lower than the historic growth rate of the franchise over the last decade.

In the second phase, First Trenitalia will operate the recast ICWC services and HS2 services between March 2026 and March 2031 as an integrated operation under a management contract, with revenue and cost risk transferring to the DfT.

During the second phase, First Trenitalia will be paid a management fee equivalent to a low single digit margin annually, with additional incentive payments for good performance. The contract includes an option for a three-year extension.

The fleet of 56 Alstom class 390 Pendolino tilting EMUs currently used by Virgin will be refurbished at a cost of £117m with 25,000 new seats, additional luggage space, improved passenger Wi-Fi and at-seat power sockets across the fleet with wireless charging and onboard entertainment. Catering will also be upgraded with at-seat service in both first and second class.

First Trenitalia says it will introduce “an easily understandable range of fares and fewer ticket types” with an “easy and rapid” delay-repay system and mobile and smartcard ticketing.

By 2022 the joint venture will introduce 263 additional services per week, with new direct services to Liverpool South Parkway, Walsall and Gobowen and increased services for Rugby, Llandudno Junction, and Motherwell.

Subject to approval from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), First Trenitalia will operate two services per hour between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

New trains

A new fleet of 10 EMUs and 13 bi-mode multiple units will be introduced by December 2022 to operate the enhanced timetable and replace the fleet of class 221 Voyager DMUs, which are used on services from London to North Wales, operating long distances under the wires. In the meantime, the fleet of 20 five-car Voyager trains will be internally refreshed.

First Trenitalia says the replacement of the Voyager fleet will enable it to reduce rolling stock CO2 emissions by 61%. LED lighting and driver advisory systems will also be installed to improve the environmental performance of the fleet.

Stations will be upgraded with improved waiting rooms, shelters and seating. New first class lounges will be opened at Preston, Stockport and Rugby, while ticket offices at Glasgow Central, Preston and Rugby will be modernised. Passenger Wi-Fi will be upgraded and 10 new secure cycle storage facilities will be built. There will also be 900 additional parking spaces and 100 electric vehicle charging points.

The new franchise will invest £20m in performance enhancements, including developing joint plans with infrastructure manager Network Rail to reduce incidents and installing onboard and trackside infrastructure monitoring equipment.

FirstGroup: no more franchise bids

Following confirmation of its win in the WCP procurement, FirstGroup chief executive Matthew Gregory confirmed that the firm will not be bidding for any upcoming rail franchises in Britain.

“The differences between this contract and more traditional rail franchises were reflected in the terms set out by the DfT, which has resulted in a more appropriate balance of risks and rewards for us as operators,” Gregory says.

“The WCP first phase allows us to earn returns on the significant investments in services and facilities for passengers but protected by a much improved revenue risk sharing mechanism. This will transition to a management contract in the second phase, ensuring we can really focus on using the respective skills and experience within our joint venture to deliver the desired benefits of the HS2 project for passengers and the country.

“The Partnership strengthens and adds a fourth franchise to our UK rail portfolio. Following this award we will not therefore be seeking new franchising opportunities for the foreseeable future over and above our current negotiations with the DfT to extend Great Western Railway (GWR). Our focus remains on delivering sustainable shareholder value and we will actively manage our rail portfolio and its risk and reward profile accordingly.”

FirstGroup says its board has carried out extensive reviews of the WCP proposal and the bid assumptions have been tested and revalidated in accordance with the firm’s May 30 commitment to seek an “appropriate balance of potential risks and rewards for shareholders.”


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Western Greece: Major transportation projects underway in Achaia prefecture

Νίκος Καραγιάννης



Σιδηροδρομικός Σταθμός Αιγίου

One of the most active -construction-wise- parts of the country, tends to become Achaia prefecture, belonging in the Region of Western Greece, with many different projects being at the design or tendering stage.

The first major step was taken in 2017 with the completion of the western section of Olympia Motorway -from Kiato to Patras- changing Achaia, as the routes to other parts of the country through the new motorway network became much easier and safer.

Today, Achaia is preparing for a series of major infrastructure projects that will further develop transport networks and transform the region, with the main focus being on Patras, Greece’s third largest city.

However, this process is quite problematic as multiple factors have contributed to delaying the implementation of these necessary projects.

The active «fronts» of Achaia

The most important project concerning Western Achaia and its neighboring Ilia prefecture is of course Patras-Pyrgos Motorway and the changes that may be brought by the new Government in the «legendary» sliced project with the 8 contracts.

The second major front is the railway works which, from Aegion onwards comprise 3 sections: from Aegio to Psathopyrgos, from Psathopyrgos to Rio and from Rio to Patras Port.

The first two sections are under construction, for the new double-track railway line infrastructure. Next year will be crucial for the auctioning of projects that are essential for the reopening of the double-track line with electrification, all the way from Aegion to Rio.

The aim is for the project to have been completed by 2023 and the new, modern train to reach the  entrance of the city of Patras.

The third section prepares a contract that includes the study and construction of a comprehensive project for infrastructure, electrification, signaling, ETCS and stations from Rio to Aghios Dionysios with updated decisions being expected by the new Minister.

At the same time, the extension of the successful Suburban Railway of Patras, from Aghios Andreas to Kato Achaia, is due to operate in 2019. The first test routes will start in the next few days.

Apart from the above, another issue is the arrival of the natural gas. Movements are constantly taking place but to this day there are not any definite plans.

Another critical infrastructure is the completion of Peiros-Parapiros Dam which is in its final stage of construction. The debate remains about who will be the administrator of a project promising to solve water supply and irrigation issues throughout Achaia.

Finally, the completion of the construction works in the Port of Patras is expected soon. Here, due to the disruption of transport networks in the previous years, a large decline in the traffic  of the port has been observed.

Today, its lack of connection with the railway network is directly connected to its disadvantage in the freight transport sector, while in other ports such as Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Volos and Alexandroupolis, this infrastructure is directly linked to their growth path.

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Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” selected by the Airline Industry

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Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” was nominated by leading airlines and shortlisted for the «World Routes Airport Marketing Awards». This is the first time that a Greek regional airport secures a top 5 nomination in the «4 to 20 million passengers» category.

The nomination criteria included and examined the efficient management and support of airlines, route development strategy, the level of overall cooperation with the airlines as well as the implementation of innovative airport marketing solutions. Following an evaluation by an independent committee consisting of top industry executives worldwide, the winner will be announced in Adelaide at the “Routes Word 2019” conference in September. The other shortlisted airports are Budapest, Malta, Oakland and Stuttgart.

Mr. Giorgos Vilos, Executive Director of Commercial & Business Development at Fraport Greece, commented “Our participation in the final stage of the awards, is a great honor for the Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” and Fraport Greece. First and foremost because this the first time that a Greek regional airport is being shortlisted in a category with other top airports, but also because the shortlisted airports are being nominated by the airlines, a fact that proves that the industry acknowledges the quality of our work across all levels.”

For more than 20 years, “Routes” rewards excellence and innovation in air transportation. This year’s «World Routes Awards», are more competitive than in the past, as according to the organizers, there is a record-number of candidacies.

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