Suburban railway will bring Corinth much closer to Athens

Corinth will come much closer to Athens starting this May through the new «proastiakos» (suburban) railway system, directly affecting real estate prices in the areas that will finally benefit from a quick and, one hopes, reliable means of transportation. The new line will upgrade areas in the Saronic Gulf and Corinthian Gulf coastlines, downgraded with the construction of a high-speed motorway, according to T. Karayiannis, head of the housing section of chartered surveyors «Danos & Associates.» «At the same time, the suburban railway will considerably facilitate local trips, increasing the significance of local economic and administrative centers such as Corinth,» Karayiannis told Kathimerini. The new Athens-Corinth line will have a total length of 88 kilometers, with maximum speed reaching 200 kilometers per hour at the Thriassio-Corinth section. The terminus of the line will be the new Corinth station, a crucial interchange for trips to the Peloponnese. The line’s stations in the section from the Acharnai Railway Hub (SKA) to Nea Peramos (i.e. Ano Liosia, Magoula, Thriassio) are under construction and are expected to be delivered in spring 2006, while construction on the new station at Zefyri will start soon. Between SKA and Ano Liossia, there will be a quadruple railtrack, and from Ano Liossia to Corinth a double railtrack of normal width. Depending on road traffic, trains will cover the distance at an average maximum speed of 115-120 km/h. According to the existing timetable, when services start in May trains will call at Nea Peramos, Megara, Kinetta and Aghii Theodori. With the completion of the suburban railway, areas once considered too far out for permanent settlements will get closer to Athens, which, in turn, will acquire extensive suburbs, approaching European standards, where modern big cities are easily and speedily linked with remote suburbs. Studies show that the expansion of town-planning limits to a 40km radius (within Attica) or an 80-100km radius (including neighboring prefectures), along with the reduction in commuting time, will help create new population centers with positive effects on housing, economic, social and cultural development. The result of this will be the development of new structures for the Athens metropolitan center along European and international standards. «The impact of the suburban railway on the prices of permanent as well as summer housing will be limited and under no circumstances comparable with that of the metro,» suggests Karayiannis. «Ads for housing will often include the phrase ‘near a suburban railway station’, but at the end of the day I expect the price increase to be as low as 5 to 10 percent, depending on the location, provided some conditions are fulfilled. These conditions are that the transport medium proves reliable and, especially, that tickets are more affordable than the 6-euro ticket currently charged on the route from (Athens’s) Larissa Station to the international airport,» Karayiannis believes. It would be difficult to evaluate the effect the suburban railway has had so far on real estate prices, as it serves areas where prices rose very fast in the past few years, long before the railway’s operation began, and which have particularly benefited from other Olympic Games infrastructure projects, such as the metro and the Attiki Odos highway skirting Athens and linking the city and the main national highways to the airport. But the effect on its future routes may already be being felt: According to local estate agents in the broader Corinth area (the towns of Lechaion, Assos and Periyiali), house prices are on their way up, ranging from 1,500-2,000 euros/sq.m., with the city of Corinth expanding and obtaining its own suburbs.