Rack railway at Kalavryta:First stop… out in the fields

Delivery of the four ultra-modern carriages ordered by the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) for the rack railway at Kalavryta started in mid-March. But it looks as if they will be spending spring outdoors because the railroad is not ready. The contract was signed in February 2004 and the Stadler company started building the carriages, but work on updating the Diakofto-Kalavryta line, which includes changes to the rack railway, has been delayed. The new carriages cannot go into operation, nor can test runs be carried out so that the delivery process can be finalized. Meanwhile, the train depot where the carriages are stored, maintained, cleaned and repaired was suitable only for the old carriages, and work has not yet begun to revamp it for the new carriages. Since OSE has nowhere to store the new carriages, it has left them outdoors, near the Diakofto station. Though sources say that OSE has ordered special covers for the carriages, railway workers complain that the first carriage is exposed to the elements, without any protection from rain, damp, sun and vandals. The second carriage is due to arrive on April 14, the third on May 2 and the fourth by summer. OSE officials say that work on the railway line started about three weeks ago and is due to be completed in October. Railway workers claim that a considerable proportion of the funding for the project came from the regional administration (about 8 million euros of a total budget of 30 million euros), and question why the delay occurred. They say work should have begun when the contract was signed in order to have the grid ready for the trains. OSE Director Dionysis Hionis says the administration at the time had taken no steps to assign the project and that the order made no provision for making the new carriages compatible with the old lines.

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