Despite two private companies being granted licenses to operate railway services last year, Greece has not yet fulfilled its obligation as a member of the European Union to open up the domestic market to anyone interested in entering the passenger and freight rail industry.
For the licensees to provide these services, they would not only have to hire or buy locomotives and carriages, but also train and certify their own conductors. However, the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), which is responsible for the creation and operation of agencies to train and certify conductors, has not launched the relevant process, according to transport industry professionals and Vassilis Tsiamantis, president of the Regulatory Authority for Railways (RAS), the watchdog that licenses railway companies.
Rail Cargo Logistics Goldair and Piraeus Europe Asia Rail Logistics Ltd submitted applications to RAS and were cleared to receive their licenses last year. But while attempting to get down to business and gathering all the necessary documents and permits, they have run into the absence of the agency that is supposed to train and certify train conductors.
“It is obvious that without the capacity for training and certification for this vital profession in the sector, the railway market in Greece will remain closed, with all the consequences that this entails,” noted Tsiamantis.