Metro extensions will help relieve burden of congestion

Athens’s metro system will prove to be the most dependable and necessary mode of public transportation during the Olympic Games, especially considering the widespread traffic restrictions that will be imposed throughout Athens. Already, over half a million commuters use the metro on a daily basis, and the Attiko Metro company is scheduled to open four more stations by the summer, increasing its services to the public and even reaching as far as Athens International Airport. At the end of the month, the opening of the new station at Aghios Dimitrios will mark the beginning of the third cycle of enlargement of the underground railway system. The company is already holding test runs along the 1,200-meter extension of Line 2 from Dafni station to Aghios Dimitrios. Next, by the end of June – pushing closer to the opening date of the Games – the capital should see the extension of Line 2 from Sepolia to Aghios Antonios and of Line 3 from Ethniki Amyna to Halandri and then on to Doukissis Plakentias, through the regional railway installations and up to the airport at Spata. The northward extension of the Athens metro is possibly the most important part of the network’s development plan, first because it will help relieve the burden on the saturated Ethniki Amyna station and, mainly, because it will connect the airport directly to the city center and to the port of Piraeus. According to studies conducted by Attiko Metro, this extension will pare down the time it takes to get from Eleftherios Venizelos Airport to Syntagma Square to 27 minutes, while to get to Piraeus from the airport, using the metro and then switching to the older ISAP electric railway, will take just under an hour. By 2007, the 5.9-kilometer (3.6-mile) extension from Ethniki Amyna to Doukissis Plakentias is also expected to have stops at Holargos and the Mint on Mesogeion Avenue. Estimates show that the new extension will increase the number of passengers using the metro each day by 55,000 in the first phase, while, by 2007, over 100,000 people are expected to use the new section of the network on a daily basis. As far as the metro’s use of the regional railway network is concerned, seven trains will run from their underground tunnels onto the tracks of the regional railway just after the Doukissis Plakentias terminal and cover the 21 kilometers (13 miles) to the airport in just 11 minutes. The trains that will be used for this route, tracks allowing, can reach speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour. Also, they each have a 1,026-passenger capacity, are fully equipped to allow access to disabled passengers and have ample stowage areas for luggage. In contrast to the regular metro trains, passengers will also be able to walk from one carriage to another. The opening of the new stations is expected to affect both the total number of people who use the network on a daily basis, as well as the effectiveness of the existing system. According to recent data, during the year 2003, 505,973 passengers used the metro on a daily basis, showing a 14 percent increase from the previous year. Also, numbers show that the most frequently used station is Syntagma, which accounts for 10 percent of the metro’s traffic on a regular working day.

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