The government pledged yesterday to begin building an underground railway network in Thessaloniki next year and have it up and running by 2011 as well as expanding the Athens subway over the coming years. Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said it was a «basic government priority» to give Greece’s second-largest city a metro system – something Thessaloniki has been repeatedly promised over the last decade. He claimed work would begin next summer. The line will span some 10 kilometers, linking the eastern and western parts of the city. Souflias also outlined expansion plans for the Athens metro. He said Line 2 would be extended to Hellenikon by 2009. A new line from Monastiraki to Haidari is scheduled to be completed by 2008, together with a new station at Aghia Paraskevi. Stations in Holargos and at Nomismatokopeio, on Mesogion Avenue, should be ready by 2006.