The Elliniko Metro received praise for the Thessaloniki Metro from the European Commission during a meeting held a few days ago within the framework of the 7th session of the Monitoring Committee of the Operational Program “Transport Infrastructure, Environment & Sustainable Development” for the period 2014-2020. Representatives from the DG Regio were also present at the meeting.

In the meeting, according to information, a presentation was given on the progress of the Thessaloniki Metro project. It appears that the officials from the Commission have been convinced of the course of the work, the absorptions, and the timetable aiming for the commencement of operations in the second half of 2024, with the main goal being by the end of autumn.

Indeed, as the same sources assert, commendations were given for the swift completion of the tender process for the maintenance and operation of the Thessaloniki Metro by the Elliniko Metro. The competition was concluded with the signatures under the THEMA framework, four months earlier than the scheduled timetable, a fact that was acknowledged by the European officials in this meeting.

This aligns with the statements made by the Minister of Infrastructure, Christos Staikouras, and the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Nikos Tachiaos, regarding the operation of the Thessaloniki Metro in the second half of 2024.

For the record, let’s recall that in the Fall of last year, the Interministerial Committee for Strategic Investments (PPP) gave the green light for this specific project, the announcement of which was made in early 2023. Bids were submitted in May, the contractor was awarded the project in the summer, it passed through the Court of Audit, and the contract under PPP was signed in early October.

The tender conducted by Elliniko Metro, according to sources close to the process, was considered not only successful but also as a potential pilot for similar projects outside Greece.

The maintenance and operation tender were carried out using the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) method, specifically the Integrated Project Delivery PPP. However, it introduced a significant innovation for the country—it was conducted in a single phase, rather than the traditional two-phase process.

Exactly, it involved a single-phase process where expressions of interest were solicited, bids were submitted, and the selection was based on the entity offering the lowest price, in accordance with the criteria specified in the tender announcement.

How will it operate? This is clearer, as stated in the contract PPP; all revenues from operations (ticket sales, advertisements, operation of telecommunication networks, space rentals, etc.) will be collected by the Greek government and not the contracting entity.

On the other hand, the contractor has an agreed-upon price, but to collect it, they must meet a series of strict criteria. For example, they must operate according to the agreed frequency, maintain cleanliness and decency in stations and trains, ensure the desired level of security, and so on.

If the scheme fails to meet any of the criteria, then case-specific clauses can be applied, and these will be enforced until the criterion or criteria are met. This will be a significant difference from the corresponding system in Athens.

According to sources familiar with metropolitan railway projects, the operation of the Thessaloniki Metro places it in the “exclusive club” of the most modern metro systems in Europe.

As noted, the Thessaloniki Metro belongs to the GAO4 category, and systems of this kind are found in only 7 cities in Europe. More specifically, examples include Line 5 of the Milan Metro, the circular line of the Copenhagen Metro, and the new lines in Paris and London.

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