NEWS

Tram to stay out of center for Olympics

After patiently enduring even worse traffic jams than usual for over a year because of the construction of the tram line in central Athens, Athenians learned yesterday that the tram will not go all the way to Syntagma Square during the Olympics. From August 10 to September 20, although work will have been completed, the last 3 kilometers of the line from Syntagma to Neos Cosmos will not function. This is the period that will be covered by the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. «The tram will not go all the way to Syntagma, as originally planned, but will stop at Neos Cosmos,» said Angelos Laskaratos, president of the Tram SA company. «That is because the station at which passengers can transfer from the metro (to the tram) is at Neos Cosmos and also the needs are far greater, and we don’t need to block traffic in Syntagma with the tram,» he added. «Athens 2004 organizers requested this of us and we adapted ourselves to this need.» Laskaris said that during the Olympics, Amalias and Olgas avenues, which lead from the Panathenaic Stadium to Syntagma Square will be closed to cars and public transport because of special events to be held in the square. The tramway, which is to link central Athens with the coastal suburbs of Neo Faliron and Glyfada, over a total distance of 29 kilometers, is expected to be completed by the end of June. Commercial operations are to start on July 15. But the last part of the tram system is within the Olympic Ring, in which traffic will be restricted in order to give the vehicles used by Olympic athletes and officials priority. The tram’s operations would complicate this further. During the Olympic period, buses, trolley buses, trams, the metro, suburban railway and the Piraeus-Kifissia line will operate from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. Normally, they operate from 5 a.m. to midnight. Also, 20 bus lines and four trolley bus lines that link Olympic sites with each other and central Athens will operate on a 24-hour basis.