The first week after the national election is succeeded by expectations and challenges regarding the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
The successor of Mr. Christos Spirtzis, Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, has a long list of issues in his hands that require either an immediate solution or swift responses.
The first, concerns the realization of new generation projects and, in particular, the boost of large-scale infrastructure projects such as Athens Metro Line 4, Patras-Pyrgos Motorway, as well as the launch of others such as Elefsina-Yliki Motorway, which is also the flagship project proclade by the ruling party, New Democracy, in its governmental plan.
Moreover, the blockage of many projects at the Council of State is yet another problem inherited by previous administrations to the new Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Mr. Karamanlis.
There are also tendering issues associated with the use of L.4412/2016 which, even though was originally introduced to improve the situation, it eventually became more complicated than before, as well as problems related to big discounts, challenges regarding the utilization of new and more efficient financial tools, etc.
In the field of Transport, things have another dimension. In urban transport for Athens and Thessaloniki, there is a need to address the current situation, which in addition to the passenger traffic increase (especially in Athens) due to the electronic ticketing system, there is also an urgent need for the procurement of new buses for both cities that will partially replace the old, outdated fleets.
In the field of road transport, a major issue remains the influx of trucks with foreign plates that “steal” a significant part of the “cake” in the domestic market, resulting to a stagnation of the Greek truck fleet, which is one of the most obsolete in Europe.
K. Karamanlis proposes extensive undergrounding of the train line reaching Patras
A very interesting panel was held today in Patras, within the framework of the 8th Regional Growth Conference organized by “Peloponnisos” newspaper.
During the session entitled: “Regional Policy and New Infrastructure”, the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Mr. Kostas Karamanlis,referred to major infrastructure projects in the region and announced the government’s proposal for extensive undergrounding of the train route to Patras (between Kanellopoulou Street and Dymaion Coast, with a total length of more than 5 km) and its connection to the port of the city (section Aghios Dionysios-Aghios Andreas).
Mr. Karamanlis announced the new approach for the train, aiming to satisfy the local community, releasing at least 17 acres of public space on the surface within the dense urban sprawl, while ensuring, at the same time, the good operation of the Suburban Railway and mainting the connection to Pyrgos. As he said the relevant tender is due to start in the second half of 2021 for a project worth in total 514m euros. When completed, travel time between Athens and Patras will be reduced to just 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The proposal of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport is of great interest in the region, since the issue of the construction of the train line has been present for more than 15 years.
The Minister of Infrastructure and Transport also spoke about Patras-Pyrgos Motorway, for which he promised swift developments in order to upgrade the existing, obsolete axis that is extremely dangerous for its users.
CRRC successfully tests 600km/h maglev train
China successfully completed low-speed dynamic testing of a 600km/h prototype maglev car developed by CRRC Sifang on a test line at Tongji University in Shanghai on June 21, a milestone for the project lunched in June 2016.
CRRC is developing the train alongside more than 30 companies, universities, and research institutes. The train has been identified as a key development under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Advanced Rail Transit research and development plan.
The trial was undertaken following static testing and debugging, and included dynamic operating environments such as switches, curves and ramps. This allowed the testing of key components such as suspension guidance, speed and position measurement, the vehicle-rail interface, traction, and the communication systems.
Mr Ding Sansan, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Sifang and head of the maglev project, says the development of the maglev train requires four different elements, including the vehicle, power supply, communications systems and track. The tests allowed simultaneous testing of each element, with a large amount of data collected that will feed into further research.
“Under the test conditions of multiple scenarios, the suspension guidance of the vehicle is stable, and the operating condition is good,” Ding says. “The key technical indicators meet the design requirements and the design expectations.”
Five test cars are currently under development, with a full prototype capable of 600km/h operation expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Last year, China announced plans for a 200km maglev line in Hubei province to test operation of the prototype train at speeds in excess of 600km/h.
Tram extension to Piraeus to operate in late 2020
The operation of the Tramway extension to Piraeus is moved towards the end of 2020, as the works for the relocation of the Tram line in the area of Faliro Bay will have to be completed first, as well as the rest of the project.
It is also reminded that Batis-SEF section, has been out of order since March 16, 2020, based on the planning of Attica Region, in the context of Faliro Bay Restoration project.
According to information, while initially the project provided for 45 days of construction works and an additional 15 days of testing, due to Covid-19 pandemic, these procedures were delayed.
Now, should there be no more delays, the new goal is for the projects to be completed with the reattachement of the lines on both sides, allowing the restoration of commercial operation, by the beginning of September. It is noted that the projects include the demolition of “Tzitzifies” and “Kallithea” stops and their reconstruction at a new location.
The building that stands in the way for the extension’s operation
The big demand from the above projects is the start of the commercial operation of the first large extension of the Tram from Faliro to Piraeus. The project has been completed and last February STASY S.A. was just a step away from receiving the new section from Attiko Metro.
Then, a fire at an adjacent conservation building, obstructed the delivery of the extension, as the use of the line was banned by the police, “trapping the project in the greek bureauratic procedures.
An autopsy was performed by the Ministry of Culture, deciding that the building could be demolished, apart from its facade. However, this requires a detailed demolition study by the Municipality of Piraeus.
At this point in time, Attiko Metro expects from the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality to address any interventions needed in order to remove the traffic ban and allow the completion of the remaining works that concern the installation of telematics and a substation.
Extension to operate towards the end of the year
Based on the above and having in mind the best prospects, the delivery of the 5.4 km long single-track line for the extension of the Tram to Piraeus, with 11 stops is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
At that point, the first lot of the “new generation” tramsets are expected to be delivered by Alstom, making the service of the line extension possible and reinforcing the existing fleet, which is now considered “missing”. A total of 25 tramsets will be received.
It is reminded that the project started in early 2013 with a completion schedule of 25 months. If it finally operates at the end of 2020 it will have completed 94 months (!), i.e. almost four times the period that was originally calculated.
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