Rail meets new court challenge

The Athens Municipality has launched legal action to have the government build an underground tunnel for a new suburban railway planned to cut through densely built-up parts of the capital, court sources said yesterday. The suit, tabled by Mayor Dora Bakoyannis before the Council of State, calls for the ministerial decision of February 2, 2004 that approved the environmental study for the railway to be declared illegal, as it made no mention of the alternative option of sending the line underground. The new railway will replace existing lines between Piraeus and Menidi, but most of the extant level crossings are to be abolished and sound barriers will be set up on either side of the tracks – leaving no openings for pedestrian crossings. Bakoyannis argued that this will effectively cut the city in two, while the new line will result in the felling of many trees that now line the tracks. In 2002, the Council of State accepted a similar suit against a government decision of 2001. Initial plans to build the line underground were axed as too costly.

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