Metro seeks private funds

Private-sector funds are expected to help cut the time needed to construct four new extensions to the Athens Metro to 10 years from an original time scale of 20 years, Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday. She said the government had decided to speed up the projects which extend to the four corners of the capital with the aid of the private sector as the present network «is not sufficient to cover the public’s needs.» The private sector will be expected to help bear some of the high costs of constructing four new lines, Papandreou said. The four extensions, covering a distance of 26.2 kilometers and involving the construction of 21 stations, are expected to cost 2.5 billion euros. «The goal is to complete the extensions by 2010 against an original target of 2020,» Papandreou said. The extension to the northern suburb of Maroussi is estimated to cost 810 million euros and is expected to carry 120,000 passengers daily. Another that goes to Piraeus will cost 700 million euros and will service 130,000 passengers daily. The third extension to Galatsi, estimated to cost 730 million euros, is due to carry 110,000 passengers, while the fourth line to Athens airport is set to cost 280 million euros and will service 80,000 passengers daily. Papandreou said the private sector will also be called on to help construct parking garages at Metro stations, with work expected to commence after the 2004 Olympic Games. Four parking garages under construction presently should be ready before the Games. Papandreou said a tender for an adviser to help the government look for private funds for the four extensions will be launched in the coming months. Contracts with the private sector are scheduled to be signed by the end of 2003.