NEWS

Metro extension back on track?

MPs will have the chance within the next two weeks to approve a contract that would pave the way for the completion of seven new stations on the Athens metro network, Transport Minister Makis Voridis told Kathimerini Tuesday.

Voridis is this month due to submit to Parliament the contract for Siemens to supply the signaling equipment that is needed for the stations to be prepared. ?I think it is just a matter of days,? he said. ?We will present the contract to the relevant parliamentary committee by mid-January at the latest and then Attiko Metro [the firm responsible for constructing the stations] will be able to sign the agreement.?

Voridis added that it would not be necessary for all three parties involved in the coalition government to approve the Siemens contract for the project to proceed.

This was a softening of the stance he adopted in early December, when he insisted that cross-party support was a prerequisite for the scheme.

The extension of metro lines 2 and 3 had been held up since 2008 because successive governments were unwilling to sign the 45-million-euro contract with Siemens after the firm?s Greek branch was accused of paying bribes in the past to politicians and state officials to secure contracts.

The seven stations — three on Line 3 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 last summer but may not even be available to commuters this year.

Attiko Metro officials said it would take about eight months to complete the Line 1 extension from the day the signaling contract is signed. The Line 2 extension would take a year, they said.

Voridis appeared confident Greece would meet the deadlines set by the European Union, which is co-funding the project. ?I think we will be within the deadline,? he said. If the targets are not met, the EU could withdraw up to 463 million euros of funding.