The new line on the Athens Metro, Line 4, is the final stretch to the start of construction after years of promises and planning. A major infrastructure project, it is expected to benefit thousands of residents in districts like Gyzi, Kypseli, Galatsi, Kaisariani and Zografou, serving around 341,000 passengers a day as of 2030.
A consortium led by Avax won the tender last week for what is the biggest public project of the next decade, known also as the “U Line” due to its projected shape on the Athens transport map. Construction is set to begin in 2022.
The final mapping of the line’s course was completed a decade ago, though some last-minute changes have been made since then, with the addition of a station at Ano Kypseli (Elikonos) following a demand by residents there, and the relocation of another station, at Kaisariani (Near East), by 200 meters because local authorities argued that the construction period would have an adverse effect on local trade and businesses.
The construction plan has already run into a number of obstacles. For example, the new Akadimia station will communicate with the existing Panepistimio station on Line 2 via a tunnel, which will have to be built with conventional means and not a tunnel boring machine (TBM) so as to protect the historic buildings on Panepistimiou Street (the Athens Academy, University and Library).
Special care will be taken at the Evangelismos and Exarchia stations, to prevent damage to buildings, with the latter’s construction set to shut down Exarchia Square for a long time, with unknown reactions in a notoriously volatile neighborhood. And in Kypseli, the original route had to be changed as there is supposed to be an underground stream in the area, though no one seems to know exactly where it flows.
The line’s will have a single tunnel for both directions instead of two, as well as glass partitions between the platform and the train, just like the Thessaloniki metro.
Of the 12.8 kilometers covered by the new line, 10.3 km will be constructed with a TBM and the rest with conventional methods. Line 4 will meet with lines 2 and 3 at two stations.