NEWS

Metro extension set to receive green light

The completion of seven new stations on the Athens metro network is set to move a step closer, Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas indicated on Thursday, as a court appears to be ready to clear the government?s contract with Siemens to supply some of the equipment.

The extension of metro lines 2 and 3 had been held up since 2008 because the current and previous governments were unwilling to sign the 45-million-euro contract with Siemens. The German electronics and engineering giant had a deal to provide the signaling equipment for the new stations.

Siemens?s Greek branch has been accused of paying bribes in the past to politicians and state officials to secure contracts, so the current government was concerned about entering into another agreement with the firm.

?Soon, this major works project will become disentangled from any association with the Siemens scandal,? said Reppas, indicating that the Court of Audit was set to approve the contract, thereby giving the green light for the work to proceed.

The seven stations – three on Line 1 of the metro system (Peristeri, Anthoupoli and Haidari) and four on Line 2 (Ilioupoli, Alimos, Argyroupoli and Elliniko) – were due to open to the public this summer but are not likely to be available to commuters until some time in 2012.

Despite the holdup, work at the stations is continuing and the redevelopment of a square in Peristeri that is located directly above the station has been completed.

Reppas added that the government would be in a position to launch a tender for the construction of a totally new line, Line 4, next year. The project is slated to cost 1 billion euros.

Meanwhile, employees on the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) warned that although the line would be fully operational as of June 7, passengers should expect delays at Omonia because they will have to change trains there. This is because there will only be one track available between Omonia and Monastiraki because a court has yet to rule on whether an ancient altar uncovered next to the railway lines at Monastiraki station can be covered up again.