Metro to be extended by end of July

A crucial extension of the Athens metro system, which will link the subway with the airport, will begin operating at the end of July, just two weeks before the start of the Olympics. But although this and several other parts of the subway network will come into operation in time for the Games, the link to the airport will be interrupted for up to six months once the Olympics are over, as a station is built at Aghia Paraskevi, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday. The problem arose because, in their haste to complete Line 3 from the Ethniki Amyna station to Stavros, where it will link up with the suburban railway line, officials did not begin construction on the Aghia Paraskevi station. The extension of Line 2 from Sepolia to Aghios Antonios in the suburb of Peristeri will also operate from the end of July, adding 1.2 kilometers and one station to the network. The Line 3 extension adds 5.9 kilometers and five stations, including the terminus at Doukissis Plakentias. From there to the airport, the suburban railway line will carry the metro train the 20.7 kilometers to the airport. Souflias, who toured the Doukissis Plakentias site yesterday, said that by 2007, Line 2 would be extended a further 1.5 kilometers to Thivon station and Line 3 from Monastiraki to Aegaleo, a distance of 4.3 kilometers. By 2008, Line 2 will be extended 5.5 kilometers from Aghios Dimitrios to Hellenikon, and Line 3 another 1.5 kilometers from Aegaleo to Haidari. The government is looking for financing in order to expand Line 3 further, from Haidari to Piraeus (6.8 kilometers) and from Panormou to Maroussi (9 kilometers) and to introduce a new line from Panepistimio (on Line 2) to Tralleon, 6.5 kilometers away. Turning to politics, Souflias responded to comments by PASOK that the conservatives were claiming credit for projects begun by the former government. He pointed out that the Attiko Metro company had been created in 1991 by a New Democracy government and work begun in 1992 before PASOK’s win the next year. «That is how it goes with big projects,» Souflias said. «Someone plans the work and begins it, others continue it and others complete it.»