From December 15, the Athens-Thessaloniki passenger rail route will be operated in its entirety by train, part of which is currently operated by bus, following the damage suffered by the network due to the “Daniel” bad weather. At the same time, from December 10, the re-operation of the railway axis from Athens to the border will begin and in terms of passenger transport. The aim is to complete the complete restoration of the railway network, together with the remote control and signaling systems, by the beginning of 2025, after the relevant tenders are announced earlier, which is expected to be done in the beginning of 2024.

He announced the above today the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Christos Staikourasspeaking from the stage of the 7th Thessaloniki Summit, organized in Thessaloniki by the Association of Greek Industries (SBE) and the Delphi Economic Forum.

The Minister also reminded that the amount of damage to the railway network (to the infrastructure, infrastructure, stations and remote control and signaling systems) amounts to 200 million euros, which are covered by redistributing resources from the Recovery and Reconstruction Fund. Projects worth 14 million euros are already “running”, with which the network will be temporarily restored, so that then, at the beginning of 2024, the tenders for its complete restoration can be announced.

For the Metro, the fly over and the OASTH

Referring specifically to Thessaloniki, the minister admitted that the people of Thessaloniki are right to feel insecure about the timely implementation of projects by the Greek State and “absolutely right to be suspicious of the political system. We have to change this and I am committed to taking my share of responsibility.”

He reiterated that the Thessaloniki Metro will be operational in the second half of 2024, given in particular that in recent days there has been an acceleration of the procedures following the decisions of the Competition Commission (p.s. apparently his reference referred to the acquisition of AKTOR by INTRAKAT), while regarding the expansion of the project to the western districts, he said that “with the prime minister we discussed it quite thoroughly and this will be the next big project for Thessaloniki”.

Regarding the fly over project, he referred to three arguments that he often hears about the project (in terms of its feasibility, its timely implementation and its effect on the daily life of the Thessalonians), which he commented on as follows: about the feasibility he said that in his successive meetings with city officials, no one has said that the project is not right. Although concerns were raised about the timing, no one argued that the project is not necessary. In terms of timelines, he noted that the project will be paid for through availability payments, which ensures its timely completion. And regarding the suffering of the city’s residents, he noted that the concern is reasonable, but “miracles do not happen”. He added that, in order to limit the suffering, the political leadership of the ministry has a weekly presence in Thessaloniki, already from the second week of assuming its duties.

In relation to the OASTH, he reminded that this is an organization that has been in a special liquidation regime since 2017, 20 drivers with internal movements have already been added to its routes, while another 150 positions with eight-month contracts were announced, for which he however expressed concern as to whether they will be covered (since, as he said, when KTEL started the corresponding procedure, they could not find drivers). He added that as part of the cooperation with KTEL, two new bus lines have already been launched and two more will be launched from the beginning of December, while he declared that he is open to hearing more proposals for new routes. Regarding the 110 electric buses expected in Thessaloniki, he said that this is a process that requires careful planning and cooperation with DEDDIE for the charging facilities.

At 180 billion euros, the cumulative contribution of infrastructure to the creation of national income since 2000

According to Mr. Staikouras, the investment in the construction of infrastructure projects creates fixed national capital, with a multiple return on economic development. It has been proven, he explained, that the contribution of infrastructure to the creation of national income has cumulatively risen to 180 billion euros from 2000 to today, while for every one euro invested in constructions, 1.7 euros are generated for the total construction activity. He added that the infrastructures created in Greece in the last decades were the “strongest variable of the country’s modernization”. According to Mr. Staikouras, from 2019 projects (infrastructure) of more than 15 billion euros have been planned, which are in various stages, since they have either already been delivered, tendered or contracted, etc., with both national and European resources and with the contribution of the private sector.

The sources of funding for these projects are seven: first, the resources, from the national and co-financed part, of the new programming period. Second, the Recovery and Resilience Fund, through the existing allocation of resources and redistribution of amounts. Thirdly, the Solidarity Fund of the European Union, for the restoration of damages suffered by the affected areas of the Regions of Thessaly and Central Greece. Fourth, lending – on good terms – from the European Investment Bank and the Development Bank of the Council of Europe. Fifth, the financing of the projects through a more healthy and stable – today – banking system. Sixth, the utilization of resources through the existing and future Mechanism under the title “Connecting Europe Facility”. And, seventh, the extraction of resources from the State Budget itself, through the utilization of fiscal space, which has been steadily created in recent years.