Projects and promises of a modern railway network, on a par with Central European standards, faded in an instant. Even two weeks after the tragic accident his skeletons Greek Railways they keep coming to light. It may be that the puzzle of the fatal contracts 717, 635 and 10005, has reasonably monopolized the publications, but the Greek rails have swallowed more than 3 billion euros, but they remain criminally obsolete, as sealed with the 57 dead of Tempe.

About 1 billion euros have flowed into our country from the packages of community resources, in twenty years, for railway projects. Resources that have often become a “fear” on the part of the Commission, which, with the threat of returning large amounts of European funding, pushes for the completion of reforms, such as the opening of the market, or the utilization of infrastructure by private individuals.

As it found, in March 2021, the Association of Greek Transport Engineers (SES) in its positions on rail transport, although the national institutional framework has incorporated the European directives on railway safety and interoperability, “at the level of technical application and implementation of requirements of the institutional framework, the reflexes of the competent bodies were not equally effective, over time, given that the planning and maturation of infrastructure projects of such a scope takes years”.

But how many are these projects? According to the data, railway projects totaling almost 1.1 billion euros were included in the NSRF 2007-2013, while correspondingly projects totaling 629.3 million euros were included in the NSRP 2014-2020. As for the “Connecting Europe (CEF I)” mechanism, it measures projects and studies with a total budget of more than 759 million euros, of which 527.47 million euros correspond to the Community contribution.

From the available resources of the programming period 2021 – 2027, 484.5 million euros correspond to railway infrastructure, with the aim of completing the PATHE/P railway, the development of suburban in important urban centers and the interconnection with ports and airports. These are resources that will support the new package of railway projects, amounting to 4 billion euros, which are in the tendering phase by ERGOSE using the method of competitive dialogue.

The Achilles heel

The completion and maintenance of the modernization projects are the “Achilles heel” for the country’s railway network. It has been established that in Greece, on average, twice as much time is required as contractually provided for the completion of railway projects.

As for the axis of maintenance, it is typical that the first two-way signaling system with remote control in trackside infrastructure was gradually installed from 2002 on the main railway axis of Athens – Thessaloniki, but it did not include maintenance. With the weakening of the OSE staff, which swelled with the economic crisis, the maintenance of the network, and thus of the systems, was compressed.

When the gangs started ripping off the infrastructure for copper or causing sabotage (a scourge that remains to this day and strikes across Europe), it became increasingly difficult if not impossible to take down the systems. By early 2012, the systems of that era were shut down and left to completely depreciate.

It is noted that, according to the scientists of the FTA, the system in question “was essentially never put into operation/exploitation in any part of the line, due to non-completion of the necessary regulatory procedures (tests, certifications, etc.)”.

The infamous remote control

In order for our country to one day install the now popular trans-European ERTMS system, which will increase safety while ensuring the required interoperability with European networks, four signaling and remote control projects are currently running, with a total cost of 150 million euros. Since ERTMS relies on two systems, ETCS (European Traffic Control System) for automatic train protection and GSM – R (Global System Mobile for Rail) for radio coverage, it is a mosaic of contracts.

To date, 80 million euros have been allocated from the NSRF 2014-2020 for the signaling and remote control of the main axis that connects Patras – Athens – Thessaloniki – Idomeni/Promahona, of which community resources amounted to 57.4 million euros. In addition, approximately 500 million euros have been allocated since 2015, with 260 million coming from the CEF, for the construction of a new double railway line with signaling and remote control in the Tithorea – Lianokladi – Domokos section.

Source: OT